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THE dull October afternoon was rapidly drawing to a close as I passed through the village of Pinhoe and set my steps rather wearily toward Exeter. I had conceived the idea, some time before, of walking from London to Torquay, and my chief concern at the moment was to decide whether or not I could cover the intervening five miles and reach the Half Moon Hotel in High Street before the impending storm broke.

I had left Pinhoe perhaps half a mile to the rear, when the strong southwest gale whipped into my face some drops of cold, stinging rain. As I hesitated, uncertain whether to go forward in the face of the gale or to beat a hasty retreat to the village, I heard behind me the sound of an approaching automobile.

It slowed up, and a voice inquired whether I could point out the way to Major Temple's place. I glanced up and saw a tall, heavily built man of perhaps some forty years of age, bronzed and rugged, with the mark of the traveler upon him, and although his face at first impressed me unpleasantly, the impression was dispelled in part at least by his peculiarly attractive smile. I informed him that I was myself a comparative stranger to that part of England. He then asked if I were going toward Exeter and, on my affirmative reply, at once invited me to get into the car, as he could carry me at least the major part of my way.

He was a good looking fellow, of a sort, with a somewhat sensuous face, and I felt certain that his short, stubby, black mustache concealed a rather cruel mouth. Evidently a man to gain his ends, I thought, without being over nice about the means he employed.

Presently he turned to me, "I understand," he said, "that Major Temple's place is upon the main road, about half a mile this side of Exeter. There is a gray stone gateway, and a lodge. I shall try the first entrance answering that description."

I suggested that I should leave the car as soon as we reached the gateway in question and continue upon foot the balance of my way. My companion nodded and we rode in silence for a few moments. Suddenly, with a great swirl of dead leaves and a squall of cold rain, the storm broke upon us, and a moment later we tinned without stopping into a handsome gray stone gateway and up a long, straight gravel road bordered on each side by a row of beautiful oaks. I glanced up in some surprise, but he only smiled and nodded, so I said no more, realizing that he could hardly set me down in the face of such a storm.

A quarter of a mile, through a fine park, and a swift turn brought us up under the porte-cochère of a large gray stone house of a peculiar and to me somewhat gloomy and unattractive appearance. The rain and wind were now so bad that I saw it would be useless to attempt to proceed against it, and after a short wait the door was thrown open by a servant and we hurriedly entered.

WE FOUND ourselves in a large, dimly lighted hallway. I inspected with considerable curiosity the man who had admitted us, not only because of his Oriental appearance—he was a Chinaman of the better sort—but also because he was dressed in his native garb. He, upon his part, showed not the slightest interest in our coming, as he inspected us with his childlike, sleepy eyes.

"Tell Major Temple," said my friend, "that Mr. Robert Ashton is here, and—" he turned to me with a questioning glance—

"Owen Morgan," I replied, wondering if he would know me by name. If he did, he showed no sign.

"Just so—Mr. Owen Morgan," he continued, then strode toward a log fire which crackled and sputtered cheerily upon the hearth of a huge stone fire-place.

"I'm afraid I'm rather presuming upon the situation," I suggested when I had joined him, "but perhaps the storm will slacken up presently."

"Major Temple will be glad to see you, I'm sure," rejoined Mr. Ashton unconcernedly. " You can't possibly go on, you know."

"I'm afraid not," I answered, a bit ungraciously.

"The Major is a queer old character," Mr. Ashton remarked. "Great traveler and collector. I'm here on a matter of business myself—partly, at least. He'll be glad to meet you. I fancy he's a bit lonely with nobody to keep him company but his daughter. Here he comes now."

He turned toward a tall spare man with gray hair and drooping gray mustaches. His face, like Ashton's, had the dull burnt-in tone of brown which is acquired only by long exposure to the sun and which usually marks its possessor as a traveler in the hot countries.

"Ah, Ashton," exclaimed the Major, dropping his monocle, "delighted to see you. You arrived yesterday?"

"Late yesterday; you see I lost no time in coming to report the result of my quest."

"And you were successful?" demanded the older man excitedly.

"Entirely so," replied Ashton with a smile of satisfaction.

"Good! Good!" The Major rubbed his hands and smiled, then, apparently observing me for the first time, glanced at Mr. Ashton with a slight frown and an interrogative expression.

"Mr. Owen Morgan," said Ashton lightly, "on his way to Exeter with me. I took the liberty of bringing him in, on accountof the storm."

"I am ready to go on at once," I interjected stiffly, "as soon as the rain lets up a bit."

"Nonsense, nonsense!" The Major's voice was somewhat testy. "You can't possibly proceed on a night like this. Make yourself at home, sir. Any friend of Mr. Ashton's is welcome here." He turned to one of the servants, who had entered the room'to turn on the lights. "Show Mr. Ashton and Mr. Morgan to their rooms, Gibson. You'll be wanting to fix up a bit before dinner," he announced.

"Which rooms, sir, shall I show the gentlemen to?" asked the man, a trifle uneasily, I thought.

The Major looked at Ashton and laughed. "Ashton," he said, "you know I took this place only a short time ago on my return from my last trip to the East and, as we do not have many visitors, it's a bit musty and out of shape. Queer old house, I fancy. Supposed to be haunted or something of the sort. I imagine it won't worry you much."

"Hardly," replied my companion. "I've outgrown ghosts. Lead on to the haunted chamber."

The Major turned to the servant. " Show the gentlemen to the two rooms in the west wing, Gibson—the green room will suit Mr. Ashton, I fancy, and perhaps Mr. Morgan will find the white-and-gold room across the hall comfortable for the night."

I found my room a large and fairly comfortable one, and busied myself in making such preparations for dinner as I could with the few requisites my small knapsack contained.

AFTER a considerable time I heard the musical notes of a Chinese gong and, making my way to the staircase, I saw Ashton just joining a strikingly beautiful and distinguished looking girl of perhaps twenty-two or-three, dressed in an evening gown of white, the very simplicity of which only served to accentuate the splendid lines of her figure. With her splendid eyes and wide brow, crowned with a mass of bronze-colored hair, I felt that even my critical artistic taste could with difficulty find a flaw. It was evident that she and Mr. Ashton knew each other well, yet it seemed to me that Miss Temple did not respond with much cordiality to his effusive greeting.

As I joined them, Major Temple presented me as a friend of Mr. Ashton's, which, it appeared to me, did not predispose that young lady particularly in my favor.


DURING dinner the two men talked continually of China, and referred frequently to "it," and to "the stone." I attempted to carry on a conversation with Miss Temple, but she seemed laboring under intense excitement and unable to give my efforts any real attention. As near as I could gather, Ashton had set out from Hong Kong some months before on a search for a certain stone or jewel which Major Temple desired for his collection, and after an adventurous trip, during which he had been forced at the risk of his life to remain disguised as a coolie for some weeks, had finally escaped and returned to England.

There was also some talk of a reward, which seemed to give Mr. Ashton great satisfaction and to cause Major Temple much uneasiness, for I saw him glance frequently at the blanched face of his daughter.

As Mr. Ashton brought his thrilling story to a conclusion h£ drew from his waistcoat pocket a small, green, leather case, evidently of Chinese workmanship, and turned out upon the white cloth a miniature representation of the god Buddha, above an inch and a half in height and wonderfully cut from a single flawless emerald!

As the wonderful, sparkling gem flashed across the white cloth in the direction of Miss Temple an expression of intense horror passed over her face as she caught the burning eyes of Mr. Ashton fixed upon hers. She returned his gaze defiantly for a moment, then lowered her eyes and composed her features behind the cold and impassive mask she had worn throughout the evening.

Ashton flushed a sullen red, then picked up the jewel and set it carelessly upon the top of a cut-glass salt-cellar and I was startled to see the wooden, impassive face of the Chinese servant light up with a glare of sudden anger and alarm as he caught sight .of the jewel. Major Temple, observing him at die same moment, quickly covered the figure with his hand, and the Chinaman, resuming almost instantly his customary look of childlike unconcern, proceeded to offer us cigars and cigarettes as Miss Temple rose and left the table. I excused myself, feeling superfluous, and strolled into the great hall, where I stood with my back to the welcome fire, listening to the howling of the storm without.

Perhaps fifteen minutes later Miss Temple came quickly into the hall, the beauty of her delicate, mobile face marred by evident mental suffering.

"You are a friend of Mr. Ashton's," she said, as she came up to me. "Have you known him long?"

"Miss Temple, I am afraid I can hardly claim to be a friend of Mr. Ashton's. I never met him before this afternoon."

"But I thought you came with him?" she said.

I explained my presence, and mentioned my work.

"Then you are Owen Morgan, the illustrator!" she cried. "I know your work very well, and I am delighted to meet you. I was afraid you, too, were in the conspiracy." Her face darkened again.

"The conspiracy?" I asked, much mystified.

Miss Temple looked apprehensively toward the door, then her eyes sought mine. "I am all alone here, Mr. Morgan," she said at last, "and I need a friend very badly. I wonder if I can depend upon you—trust you?"

I was surprised, but assured her I should be only too happy to serve her in any way.

"But what is it that you fear?" I inquired.

"My father," she said hurriedly, at the same time lowering her voice, "is a madman on the subject of jewels. He would give anything—anything to possess some curio upon which he had set his desires! Last year, in China, he saw by accident the emerald you have just seen. It was the sacred relic of a Buddhist temple in Ping Yang, and is said to have come from the holy city of Lhasa in Thibet. His offers to purchase it were laughed at, and when he persisted he was forced to leave the city to avoid trouble.

"In Hong Kong he made the acquaintance of this man Ashton, a sort of agent and collector. Mr. Ashton persecuted me with his attentions in spite of my repeated refusals to marry him. Imagine my amazement, then, when my father, on our arrival in England, told me that he had commissioned Mr. Ashton to obtain the Emerald Buddha for him, and had agreed, in the event of his success, to give him my hand in marriage!

"My prayers, my appeals, were all equally useless; he informed me that Mr. Ashton was a gentleman—that he had given him his word and could not break it. I was forced into a semi-acquiescence to the arrangement, believing that Mr. Ashton could never succeed in his mad attempt, when suddenly my father received word that Mr. Ashton had arrived at Southampton yesterday. I shall never marry Robert Ashton—never! I do not know what my father will ask of me, but if he asks that, I shall leave this house to-morrow, and I beg that you will take me with you, until I can find some occupation that will enable me to support myself!"

Her story filled me with the deepest astonishment. I thrust out jny hand and grasped hers. "You can depend upon me absolutely!" I exclaimed. "My mother is at Torquay. She will be glad to welcome you, Miss Temple."

"Thank you, thank you!" she cried in her deep, earnest voice. "Do not leave in the morning until I have seen you. Goodnight."

At the stairway she threw back a smile of such sweet gratitude and relief that I felt amply repaid for my promise.

SUDDENLY my attention was attracted by the sound of loud voices coming from the direction of the dining-room, as though Major Temple and his guest were engaged in a violent quarrel. Then Mr. Ashton burst into the hall, followed by Major Temple, both of them excited and angry.

"I hold you to your contract!" the former shouted. "By ——, you'll live up to it, or I'll know the reason why!"

"I'll pay, —— it, I'll pay!" cried Major Temple angrily. "But not a penny to boot!"

Ashton turned and faced him. "Don't you realize that that emerald is worth a hundred thousand pounds? You promised me your daughter, but you've got to pay me for the stone in addition!"

"Not a penny!" cried Major Temple.

"Then I'll take it to London and let Crothers have it!"

"Come now, Ashton, what did the stone cost you? Merely the cost of the trip, wasn't it? I'll pay that, if you like."

"And I risked my life a dozen times to get you the jewel! You must be mad! Fifty thousand pounds, and not a penny less!"

"It's mine—I told you of it! Without my help you could have done nothing. I demand it. It is my property. You were acting only as my agent. Give it to me!" Major Temple was beside himself with excitement.

"I'll see you —— first," cried Ashton, now thoroughly angry.

The Major glared at him, pale with fury. "I'll never let you leave the house with it!" he cried.

By this time my repeated coughing and shuffling of my feet had attracted their attention, and they both hastened to conceal their anger.


IT SEEMED to me that I was disturbed, during the night, by the sound of voices without my door and the movements of people in the hallway, but I presume it was merely a dream. Just before daybreak, however, I got up to dose one of the windows, when I heard from the room across the hall, the one occupied by Mr. Ashton, a sudden and terrible cry as of some one in mortal agony, followed by the sound of a heavy body falling upon the floor. I also fancied I heard the quick dosing of a door or window, but of this I could not be sure.

I hastily threw on some clothes and ran into the hall, calling loudly for help. Opposite me was the door of Mr. Ashton's room; I found it locked. Presently Major Temple came running through the hallway, followed by his daughter and several of the servants. Miss Temple had thrown on a long silk Chinese wrapper and I could not help observing the ghastly pallor of her face.

"What's wrong here?" cried Major Temple excitedly.

"I do not know, sir," I replied. "I heard a cry from Mr. Ashton's room, but I find his door locked."

"Break it in!" cried Major Temple.

After several attempts the fastening gave way and we were precipitated headlong into the room. The gruesome sight before us caused both Major Temple and myself to recoil sharply toward the doorway. Upon the floor lay Robert Ashton in his night-clothes, his head in a pool of blood, his hands outstretched before him, his face ghastly with terror!

The Major at once ordered the servants to keep out of the room, then turned to his daughter and in a low voice requested her to retire. She did so at once, in a state of terrible excitement. He then closed the door behind us, lighting the gas, and we proceeded to examine the body. Ashton was dead, although death had apparently occurred but a short time before. In the top of his head we found a deep circular wound apparently made by some heavy, sharp-pointed instrument, but there were no other marks of violence. I examined the wound in the head carefully, but could not imagine any weapon which would have left such a mark.

And then the wonder of the situation began to dawn upon me. All three windows were securely fastened with heavy bolts on the inside. There was absolutely no other means of entrance except the door, and a rapid examination of its broken fastenings showed it had been bolted upon the inside. Major Temple was engaged in searching Mr. Ashton's Gladstone bag, heedless of the grim and silent figure upon the floor beside him, and, when he had concluded, bent over the prostrate form of the dead man and began a hurried search of his person and the surrounding floor. "The police must never find it!" I heard him mutter. Then with a sudden cry he dashed at a table on which lay the small green leather case from which Ashton had produced the emerald at dinner the night before. The case was empty. "It's gone!" he fairly screamed. "My ——, it's gone!"

"Impossible," I said. "No one could have entered or left this room since Mr. Ashton came into it."

"Nonsense!" Major Temple snorted angrily. "Do you suppose Ashton smashed in his own skull by way of amusement?" He turned to the bed and began to search it closely, removing the pillows, feeling beneath the mattresses, even taking the candle and examining the floor foot by foot. Once more he went over the contents of the portmanteau, then again examined the clothing of the dead man, but all to no purpose. The Emerald Buddha was as clearly and evidently gone as though it had vanished into the surrounding ether.

THERE was clearly no possibility that Ashton had inflicted this wound upon himself, yet the supposition that some one had entered the room from without seemed nullified by the bolted door and windows.

The body lay, its head toward the window in the west wall of the room, and some six or eight feet away, and an even greater distance from the walls on either side. There was no piece of furniture, no heavy object, anywhere near at hand. I looked again at the queer, round, conical hole in the top of the dead man's head. It had evidently been delivered from above. I glanced up, and saw only the dim, unbroken expanse of the ceiling above me papered in white. I turned to Major Temple, who stood staring with protruding eyes at something upon the floor near one of the windows. "What do you make of that?" he asked in a startled voice, handing me what appeared to be a small piece of tough Chinese paper. Upon it was inscribed, in black, a single Chinese letter.

"It is the symbol of the god," he said, "the Buddha! The same sign was engraved upon the base of the emerald figure, and I saw it in the temple at Ping Yang! What is it doing here? " Then his face lit up with a sudden idea. He rushed to the door and opened it. "Gibson!" he called to his man without. "Find Li Min and bring him here at once! Don't let him out of your sight for a moment!"

The man was gone ten minutes or more, during which time Major Temple walked excitedly up and down the room, muttering continually something about the police. "They must be notified," I said, at last. He turned to me with a queer, half frightened look. "They can do no good, no good, whatever!" he cried. "This is the work of one of the Chinese secret societies. They are the cleverest criminals in the world. I have lived among them, and I know."

"Even the cleverest criminals in the world couldn't bolt a door or window from the outside," I said.

"Do not be too sure of that. I have known them to do things equally strange. This fellow Li Min I brought from China with me—one of the most faithful servants I have ever known. He is not of the peasant or coolie class. He represented to me that he was suspected of belonging to the Reform Association, and was obliged to leave the country to save his head. I do not know—I do not know—possibly he may have been sent to watch—they knew' in Ping Yang that I was after the Emerald Buddha. Who knows? They are an amazing people, an amazing people! Did you hear any footsteps or other noises in the hallway during the night?"

I told him I could not be sure. At tins moment Gibson returned with a scared look on his face. Li Min had disappeared. No one had seen him since the night before. His room had apparently been occupied, but the Chinaman was nowhere to be found.

"The police must be notified at once," I urged.

"I will attend to it," said the Major. "First we must have some coffee." He closed the door of the room carefully and, taking the key from the lock—it had evidently not been used by Mr. Ashton the night before—locked the door from the outside and ordered Gibson to remain in the hallway without and allow no one to approach.

We finished dressing and then had a hurried breakfast. I suggested that I drive into Exeter with one of his men, notify the police and at the same time get my luggage., The murder and the necessity of my appealing as a witness at the inquest made it imperative that I remain upon the scene until the police were satisfied. At my mention of the police the Major showed great uneasiness, as before. "You need not say anything about the—the emerald," he said slowly. "It will only create unnecessary talk' and trouble."

"I'm afraid I must," I replied. "It is evidently the sole motive for the murder."

He shook his head slowly... "What a pity!" he remarked. "What a pity! If the stone is ever found now, the authorities will hold it as the property of the dead man or his relations, if indeed he has any. And it would have been the crowning glory of my collection! But they will never find it, never!" he concluded with a cunning smile.

I wondered whether Major Temple knew more than appeared on the surface, but recollected his excited search of the dead man's belongings.

HOWEVER, during my short drive to Exeter, the thought came to me that if Major Temple could in any way have caused the death of Robert Ashton from without the room, his first act after entering it would naturally have been to search for the emerald. I regretted that I had not examined the floor of the attic above, to determine whether any carefully fitted trap-door or hidden chimney or other opening to the interior of the room below existed; also the walls, and the ground outside.

At police headquarters I explained the case hurriedly, omitting all details except those pertaining directly to Mr. Ashton's death. The Chief Constable sent one of his men into an inner room, who returned in a moment with a small, keen-looking, ferret-faced man of some forty-eight or fifty years, with gray hair, sharp gray eyes, and a smooth-shaven face. He introduced him to me as Sergeant McQuade, of Scotland Yard, who, it seems, happened to be in the city upon some counterfeiting case or other, and suggested that he accompany me back to the house.

We had scarcely left the limits of the town behind us, when I noticed a figure in blue, plodding slowly along the muddy road ahead of us, in the same direction as ourselves, and Jones, the groom, said, as we drew alongside, that it was Li Min, whose sudden disappearance had caused so much excitement. The Chinaman looked at us with a blandly innocent face and, nodding pleasantly, bade us good morning. I stopped the cart and ordered Jones to get down and accompany him back to the house and on no account to let him out of his sight.

As we drove on I explained all the circumstances of the case in detail to Sergeant McQuade. In some excitement, he requested me to return with him to Exeter at once. I did not inquire into his reasons for this step, but-complied, the Sergeant meanwhile plying me with questions. I decided he had concluded that Li Min had committed the murder and hurried off to place the Emerald Buddha in the hands of some of his countrymen in the town and arrange an alibi. This he admitted. "It is absolutely necessary that we prevent any Chinaman from leaving the town until this matter is cleared up, and there is a train to London at eight. It is now ten minutes of nine. I am sorry you did not notify the police at once."

I made no reply, not wishing to prejudice him against Major Temple.

At Exeter we got little satisfaction. "Two of them went up on the eight o'clock train," the detective growled. "One of them keeps a laundry in Frog Street. The other was a stranger. They took tickets for London, third class."

When we arrived at The Oaks, as Major Temple's place was called, Jones and Li Min had arrived, and the Major had subjected the latter, he informed us, to a severe cross-examination. The Chinaman had denied all knowledge of Mr. Ashton's death and explained his own absence by saying that he had gone into town to see his brother, recently arrived from China, and knowing the habit of the Temples to breakfast very late, had supposed his return at nine o'clock would pass unnoticed. I made Major Temple acquainted with Sergeant McQuade and we proceeded at once to the room where lay all that now remained of the unfortunate Robert Ashton.


WE FOUND Gibson guarding the door where we had left him. Miss Temple was nowhere to be seen. Major Temple took the key from his pocket and, throwing open the room, allowed McQuade and myself to enter, he following us and closing the door behind him.

McQuade examined everything carefully—key, lock, bolt, socket, wound, windows, outside view. Then he stooped suddenly, picked up a small white object, a bit of lace, I thought, and handed it to Major Temple. "What do you make of that?" he asked.

Major Temple took the thing and spread it out; it was a woman's handkerchief. He became deathly pale, and his hand shook violently. I saw the initials M. T. in one corner and noticed a strong and most peculiar odor of perfume, some curious oriental scent that rose from the handkerchief. McQuade gazed at us, curiously intent. "Do you recognize it?" he inquired.

"Yes," said Major Temple, recovering himself with an effort. "It is my daughter's!"

"How do you explain its presence here?" asked the detective.

" I do not attempt to do so, any more than I can undertake to explain any of the other strange events connected with this horrible affair," said the Major pathetically. He seemed to me to have aged perceptibly since the evening before—he looked broken, old.

McQuade took the handkerchief and continued his examination of the room. I felt ready to swear that the handkerchief had not been upon the floor during my previous examination of the room, yet how could its presence there now be explained, with the door locked, the key in Major Temple's pocket, and Gibson on guard in the hall ? I thought of Muriel Temple, young, beautiful, innocent in every outward appearance, yet remembered her aversion for Ashton, and her determination never to marry him under any circumstances. Believing thoroughly in the innocence of Miss Temple, I resolved to do all in my power to sift the affair to the bottom.

My thoughts were interrupted by Sergeant McQuade, who, having brought his examination to a sudden dose, announced to Major Temple that the police and the divisional surgeon would arrive shortly, and that meanwhile he would have a look at the grounds beneath the windows of the room. I decided to accompany him, but suggested to the Major that it might be well to show Sergeant McQuade the scrap of paper, containing the single Chinese character, which we had found upon the floor. Major Temple took it from his pocket and handed it to the detective without a word. I could see that the latter was puzzled. "What does it mean?" he inquired. "Do you know?" He turned to Major Temple.

"Only that it is a religious symbol used by the Buddhist priests in China," said the latter. "It is found in their temples, and is supposed to ward off evil influences."

"Is there any reason to suppose that it belonged to Li Min or any of his countrymen? Might it not have belonged to the dead man himself—a copy, perhaps? A curiosity which he might have desired to preserve?"

I had told him nothing of the relations between Miss Temple and Ashton, but it was evident that the finding of her handkerchief in the murdered man's room had started him off on another tack.

"None whatever," the Major responded. "Yet the recovery of the jewel was beyond question the reason for the murder, and but four persons knew of the presence of the jewel in this house—my daughter, Mr. Morgan, Li Min, and myself."

"How did Li Min come to know of it?"

"He saw us examining it at dinner last night, while waiting on the table."

"Was the stone of such value that its recovery would have been sought at so great a cost?"

"Intrinsically it was worth perhaps a hundred thousand pounds. As a curio, or as an object of religious veneration among the Buddhist priests and their followers, it was priceless!"

"A hundred thousand pounds!" exclaimed McQuade. "And you intended to buy it from Mr. Ashton?"

"Yes," the Major stammered, "yes, I did."

"At what price?" came the question, cold and incisive.

"I—I—Mr. Ashton secured the jewel for me as my agent."

"But surely you were to give him some commission, some reward? What was that reward, Major Temple?"

"I had promised him the hand of my daughter in marriage."

"And was he satisfied with that settlement?" continued the detective ruthlessly.

"We had a slight disagreement—he—he wanted a cash payment in addition."

"Which you refused?"

"The matter had not been settled." "And how did your daughter regard the bargain?" asked McQuade, coldly.

Major Temple drew himself up stiffly. "I fail to see the purpose of these questions," he said with some heat. "My daughter was ready to meet my wishes, Sergeant McQuade. Mr. Ashton was a gentleman and was much attached to her."

As we passed out, the detective ordered the door locked and put the key in his pocket. I asked to accompany him in his explorations outside, to which he readily assented, and with a parting injunction that Li Min be not allowed to leave the house, we passed out into the garden.

THE storm had stopped some time during the night, and as the tragedy had occurred later and not long before daybreak, there was every reason to believe that traces of any one approaching the windows of Mr. Ashton's room would be clearly visible and that any traces made before or during the rain must have been completely obliterated. There were no evidences of any one's having walked upon the pathway since the rain, nor was it apparent that any one could have gained access to the windows without the aid of a ladder, which must have left its tell-tale marks behind.

At the end of the wing conditions were more favorable. A covered porch encircled the end of the building and extended along its front. There were three windows in the west face of the wing—one in the room which I had occupied, one in the end of the hallway, and one in Mr. Ashton's room. The roof of the porch was directly beneath them. Any one inside «the house could have reached the porch roof from the window at the end of the hall and gained the window of Mr. Ashton's room. I thought of the handkerchief, of the footsteps I fancied I had heard during the night, and shuddered.

Presently the Sergeant stepped toward the front of the house. There in the soft gravel were the prints of a woman's feet, leading from the corner of the path to the front entrance. I bent down and examined them with curious eyes, then recoiled with a cry of dismay. The footprints lead in one direction only, and that was toward the front door!

In a flash I realized what theory McQuade would at once construct in his mind: The murderer, reaching the porch roof from the hallway and obtaining access to the murdered man's room through the window, would, upon escaping from the room to the roof, be unable to enter the house again from the roof because of my presence in the hall and that of the others who had appeared in answer to my cries. What more natural than to descend from the porch by means of the heavy vines at the corner, walk quickly along the path a few steps, reenter the house through the front door, and appear almost at once among the others? I remembered that Miss Temple had appeared in a loose dressing-gown. Would she then have had time to throw off her dress so quickly, wet and muddy as it must have been, and to change her shoes for slippers? Where were these shoes? Would their condition prove that she had been out of the house during the night?

I saw McQuade examining the heavy mass of ivy at the corner of the porch. The vine was not broken or torn in any way as would inevitably have been the case had any one used it as a means of descent. But I observed, though I felt sure McQuade did not, a lightning-rod from the roof of the wing down to the porch roof, across it, and thence to the ground. Had any one descended in this way, he would have walked along the border between the porch and the path to the corner. Here he would have been obliged to step on to the gravel. Footsteps upon the grass would have left no mark.

I DID not call McQuade's attention to this at the time. He strode along the path to the steps leading to the large front porch, tracing the muddy footprints to the porch and upon its floor, where they became no longer perceptible. He then entered the house and at once made for the upper hall in the west wing. His first move was to examine the window at the end of the hall, which, I was not surprised to find, was unfastened. His second was to step out upon the roof. No sooner had I joined him here then he crossed to the window of the green room and peered in. The interior of the room was clearly visible, but the window was tightly bolted within.

The Sergeant looked distinctly disappointed. Then, with a low whistle, he pointed to a mark upon the white windowsill which had escaped both his and my attention. It was the faint print of a hand—a bloody hand—small and delicate in structure. Yet it pointed, not outward from the room, as though made by some one leaving it, but inward, as by a person standing on the roof and resting his or her hand upon the window-sill while attempting to open the window!

"What do you make of that, sir?" inquired the detective.

"No one would get out of a window that way."

"Except a woman," said McQuade dryly. "A man would swing his legs over the sill and drop to the roof. It's barely three feet. But a woman would sit upon the sill, turn on her stomach, rest her hands on the sill with her fingers pointing toward the room, and slide gently down until her feet touched the roof beneath."

"The whole thing is impossible," I retorted, with some heat. "There's no sense in talking about how any one may or may not have got out of the room, when the bolted window proves that no one got either in or out at all."

"Perhaps you think that poor devil in there killed himself?" said the detective grimly. "The window was bolted after the murder!"

"By the murdered man, I suppose," I retorted ironically.

"Not necessarily," he replied coldly, "but possibly by some one who desired to shield the murderer." He looked at me squarely, but I was able to meet his gaze without any misgivings.

"I was the first person who entered the room," I said earnestly, "and I am prepared to make oath that the window was bolted when I entered."

"Was the room dark?" he inquired.

"It was." I answered, not perceiving the drift of his remarks.

"Did you examine the windows at once?"


"What did you do?"

"I knelt down and examined the body."

"What was Major Temple doing?"

"I—I did not notice. I think he began to examine the things in Mr. Ashton's portmanteau."

"Then, Mr. Morgan, if, occupied as you were, you did not notice Major Temple's movements, I fail to see how you can swear as to the window at the time you entered the room."

"Your suggestion is impossible, Sergeant McQuade. Had Major Temple bolted the window I should certainly have noticed it."

The Sergeant smiled slightly.


WE DESCENDED to the library, where Major Temple sat waiting. "Well, Mr. Morgan?" he inquired excitedly.

"Mr. McQuade can perhaps tell you," I replied.

"I can tell you more, Major Temple," said the detective gravely, "if you will first let me have a few words with Miss Temple."

"With my daughter?" exclaimed the Major, evidently much surprised.

"Yes. And if you do not mind, Major Temple, I should much prefer to have you send one of the servants for her. I have a particular reason for desiring you to remain here."

I thought at first that Major Temple was going to resent this, but although he flushed hotly, he strode to a call-bell and pressed it, then:

"I think you would do better to question Li Min."

"I do not intend to omit doing that," replied McQuade.

We remained in uneasy silence until the maid returned with Miss Temple who, dismissing her at the door, faced us with a look upon her face of unfeigned surprise, pale and greatly agitated. I felt that she had not slept, and the dark circles under her eyes confirmed my belief. "You sent for me, father?" she inquired nervously.

"Sergeant McQuade here"—he indicated the detective whom Miss Temple recognized by a slight inclination of her head—"wishes to ask you a few questions."

"Me?" Her voice had in it a note of alarm which was not lost upon the man from Scotland Yard.

"I think you may be able to clear up a few points that at present I can not quite understand."

"I'm afraid I can not help you much," she said gravely.

"Possibly more than you think, miss. I understand your father had promised your hand in marriage to Mr. Ashton."

Miss Temple favored me with a quick and bitter glance. I knew that she felt this information had come from me.

"Yes? " She replied. "That is true."

"Did you desire to marry him?"

The girl looked at her father in evident uncertainty.

"I—I—Why should I answer such a question?" She turned to the detective with scornful eyes. "It is purely my own affair, and of no consequence—now."

"That is true, miss," replied the Sergeant, with deeper gravity. "Still, I do not see that the truth can do any one any harm."

Miss Temple flushed and hesitated a moment, then: "I would rather have died than have married him!"

McQuade had made her lose her temper, for which I inwardly hated him. His next question left her cold with fear.

"When did you last see Mr. Ashton alive?" he demanded.

The girl hesitated, turned suddenly pale, then threw back her head with a look of proud determination. "I refuse to answer that question!" she said defiantly.

Her father had been regarding her with amazed surprise. "Muriel," he said in a trembling voice, "what do you mean? You left Mr. Ashton and myself in the dining-room at a little after nine."

She made no reply.

Sergeant McQuade slowly took from his pocket the handkerchief he had found in Mr. Ashton's room. "Is this yours, miss?"

Miss Temple took it, mechanically. "Yes," she said.

"It was found beside the murdered man's body," said the detective.

For a moment I thought Miss Temple was going to faint, and I instinctively moved toward her. She recovered herself at once. "Is it possible you suppose I had anything to do with Mr. Ashton's death?"

"I have not said so, miss. This handkerchief was found in Mr. Ashton's room. It is possible that he had it himself, as a souvenir of some former meeting, although in that case it would hardly have retained this strong scent of perfume. But you might have dropped it at table—he may have picked it up that very night. I desire only the truth, Miss Temple. Tell us, if you can, how the handkerchief came in Mr. Ashton's room."

I saw Miss Temple's face change. I waited anxiously for the next words.

"I last saw Mr. Ashton," she answered, with a faint blush, "last night about midnight!"

HER answer was as much of a surprise to me as it evidently was to both Major Temple and the detective.

"Muriel!" cried the former.

"I went to his room immediately after he retired," continued Miss Temple, with evident effort. "I wished to tell him something—something important, before the morning, when it might have been too late. I was afraid to stand in the hallway and talk to him through the open door for fear I should be seen. I went inside. I must have dropped the handkerchief at that time."

"Will you tell us what you wished to say to Mr. Ashton that you regarded as so important as to take you to his room at midnight?"

Again Miss Temple hesitated, then evidently decided to tell all. "I went to tell him," she said gravely, "that no matter what my father might promise him, I would refuse to marry him under any circumstances. I told him that if he turned over the emerald to my father under any such promise, he would do so at his own risk. I begged him to release me from the engagement which my father had made, and to give me back a letter in which, at my father's demand, I had in a moment of weakness consented to it."

"And he refused?" asked the detective.

"He refused." Miss Temple bowed her head and I saw from the tears in her eyes that her endurance and spirit under this cross-questioning were fast deserting her.

"Then what did you do?"

"I went back to my room."

"Did you retire?"


"Did you remove your clothing?"

"I did not. I threw myself upon the bed until——" She hesitated, and I suddenly saw the snare into which she had been led.

"Until what?" he asked bluntly.

"Until—this morning," she concluded, and I instinctively felt that she was not telling the truth.

"Until you heard the commotion in the hall? " inquired McQuade insinuatingly.

"Yes," she answered.

"Then, Miss Temple, how do you explain the fact that you appeared immediately in the hall as soon as the house was aroused, in your slippers and a dressing-gown?"

She saw that she had been trapped. "I had begun to change," she said nervously.

"Were you out of the house this morning, Miss Temple, at or about the time of the murder? Were you at the corner of the porch under Mr. Ashton's room?" The detective's manner was brutal in its cruel insistence.

Miss Temple gasped faintly. "I—I refuse to answer any more questions!" she cried, and, sobbing violently, turned and left the room.

McQuade strode quickly toward Major Temple, who had observed the scene in amazed and horrified silence. "Major Temple," he said sternly, "I must ask to go at once to Miss Temple's room!"

"To her room? Sir," thundered the Major, "do you mean to imply that my daughter had any hand in this business? By —— sir, I warn you——" He towered over the detective, his face flushed, his clenched fist raised in anger.

McQuade held up his hand. "Major Temple, the truth can harm no one who is innocent. Miss Temple has not been entirely frank. I must search her room at once!" With a growl of suppressed rage the girl's father led the way to her room. The detective went to a large closet between the dressing-room and bedroom, threw it open, and drew forth a pair of boots, damp and covered with mud, and a brown tweed walking-skirt, the lower edge of which was still damp and mud-stained. "Major Temple," he said, "your daughter left the house, in these shoes and this skirt, some time close to daybreak. The murder occurred about that time. If you will induce her to tell why she did so, and why she seems so anxious to conceal the fact, it will naturally assist us in aiming at the truth!"

As he concluded, sounds below announced the arrival of the police and the divisional surgeon, and with a curt nod he left us and descended to the hall.


AS I DID not suppose that I should be wanted, I left the house and started out across the beautiful lawns. I met Miss Temple coming along the porch, evidently prepared for a walk, so I suggested, rather awkwardly, remembering her look of annoyance during the examination, that I should be happy to accompany her. Somewhat to my surprise she accepted my offer at once, and we started briskly off.

She was silent all the way down to the entrance to the grounds, but as we set out along the main road she said with surprising suddenness: "Do you believe, Mr. Morgan, that I had any part in this terrible affair?"

"Certainly not," I said. "And if you will permit me to say so, Miss Temple, I think you would have been wiser had you been entirely frank with him."

"What do you mean?" she asked indignantly.

I felt disappointed somehow, at her manner. "Miss Temple," I said gently, "I am sorry you were not frank about your leaving the house, as he believes you did, early this morning."

"Why does he believe that?" she asked spiritedly.

"Because he found the footprints of a woman's shoe in the gravel walk, from the west comer of the porch to the main entrance. They lead only one way. He found the skirt and shoes you wore, wet and covered with mud. The footprints were made after the rain, or they would have been washed away and obliterated by it."

"The brute!" said Miss Temple indignantly. "To enter my rooms! But suppose I did go outside at that time—suppose I had decided to run away from the wretched conspiracy against my happiness? I came back, did I not?"

"Why," I inquired, "did you come back?" She glanced quickly at me, with a look of fear. "I—I—that I refuse to explain to any one!"

"You will remember, Miss Temple, that the footprints lead in one direction only and that was toward the house. Mr. McQuade does not believe you left the house in the same way you returned to it."

"What on earth does he believe, then?" she inquired with a slight laugh, Which was the first sign of brightness I had seen in her since the night before. I could not help admiring her beautiful mouth and her white, even teeth as she tinned inquiringly to me. Yet my answer was such as to drive that smile from her face for a long time to come.

"That whoever committed the murder reached the porch roof by means of the window at the end of the upper hall, and after entering and leaving Mr. Ashton's room, descended in some way from the porch to the pathway, and reentered the house by the main entrance. Your footsteps are the only ones so far that fit in with this theory."

"IT IS ABSURD!" said my companion, with a look of terror. "How could the window have been rebolted? Why should the murderer not have reentered the house in the same way he left it? How does he know that there was any one upon the roof at all?"

"He claims that some one interested in the murderer's welfare might have rebolted the window upon entering the room. That would mean either your father or. myself. Whoever committed the crime feared to enter the hall by the window after the house had been aroused. There is positive evidence of some one's having been upon the roof."

"What evidence?" Her clenched hands and rapid breathing indicated some intense inward emotion.

"The faint print of a hand—in bleed, upon the window-sill. Miss Temple, you will, I'm sure, see the advisability of explaining fully, in order that the investigations may be turned in other directions, where the guilt lies, instead of in yours, where I am sure it does not."

She seemed suddenly stricken with terror. "I can say nothing, nothing whatever!" she answered pathetically, her face a picture of anguish.

I felt alarmed, and indeed greatly disappointed at her manner. Limiting the crime to three people, one of whom must have been upon the porch roof a little before daybreak, I saw at once that suspicion must inevitably fall upon either Miss Temple or her father. Yet there remained one other possibility—the Chinaman, Li Min. His hands, small and delicate, might possibly have made the tell-tale print upon the window-sill, but in that event, why should Miss Temple hesitate to tell of it, had she seen him? The only possible solution filled me with horror—that Miss Temple and Li Min were acting together—that her father, too, was in the plot, as he must have been if he rebolted the window. The thing was clearly impossible, yet otherwise the Chinaman was clearly innocent, for I believed without question that had he entered the room and committed the murder he could in no possible way have bolted the window himself from without. Yet as I looked at the strong, beautiful face of the girl beside me I could not think that, whatever she might be led to do for the sake of some one else, she could never have committed such a crime herself!

I also remembered suddenly Major Temple's angry remark, made to Robert Ashton the night before, that he would never allow Ashton to leave the house with the emerald in his possession. Was she shielding her father? Was it he, then, that she had seen upon the roof?


AS I WENT to my room I met Sergeant McQuade in the hall. The divisional surgeon had returned to the town, the body had been removed to a large, unused billiardroom on the ground floor, and the inquest was set for the following morning at eleven. Also, the two Chinamen who had left Exeter on the morning train had been apprehended in London and were being held there. He proposed to run up to town as soon as the inquest was over. A careful and detailed search of Mr. Ashton's room and belongings had failed to reveal any further light upon the murder or any traces of the missing Emerald Buddha.

After luncheon Sergeant McQuade asked Major Temple to meet him in the library, accompanied by Li Min, and at the Major's request I joined them. The Chinaman was stolidly indifferent and perfectly collected and calm. His right hand was bound up with a strip of white cloth. He spoke English brokenly, but seemed to understand quite well all that was said to him.

"Li Min," said Major Temple, addressing the man, "this gentleman wishes to ask you some questions."

"All light." The Chinaman faced McQuade with a look of bland inquiry.

"Where did you spend last night?"

"Me spend him with blother at Exeter."

"What time did you leave there?"

"P'laps 'leven o'clock, sometime."

"Was it raining?"

"Yes, velly much lain."

"You did not go to bed, then?"

"No, no go to bed; go Exeter."

The Sergeant looked at him sternly. "Your bed was not made tMs morning. You are lying to me."

"No, no he. Bed not made flom day before. I make him myself."

The detective turned to Major Temple. "Is tMs fellow telling the truth?"he asked. "Does he make Ms own bed?"

"Yes," replied the Major. "The other servants refused to have anything to do with him. They are afraid to enter his room."

"What did you do in Exeter?" asked McQuade.

"P'laps talkee some, smokee some, eatee some—play fan-tan—bimeby sleep."

"What's the matter with your hand?"

"Me cuttee hand, bloken bottle—Exeter."

"What kind of a bottle?"

"Whisky-bottle," answered Li Min, with a childlike smile.

McQuade turned away with a gesture of impatience. "He knows a great deal more than he lets on, but there's no way to get it out of him. Do any of the other servants sleep near him?"

"He sleeps in a small room on the third floor of the east wing, wMch has a back stairway to the ground floor," said the Major. "The other house servants sleep on the second floor of the rear extension, over the kitchen and pantries. My daughter generally sees to the locking up of the house."

"Did she do so last night?"

"No. I locked the rear entrance before I retired shortly before midnight."

"After Mr. Ashton had left you?"

"Immediately after."

"Then if Li Min had left the house by that time, you would not have known it?"

"No. I sat up with Mr. Ashton until quite late—perhaps for two hours or more after dinner."

"Did you have any quarrel with Mr. Ashton before he left you?"

Major Temple glanced at me with a slight frown. "We had some words," he said, hesitating slightly, "but they were not of any serious consequence. We had a slight disagreement about the price he was to be paid for his services in addition to the other arrangement. We agreed to leave it until the morning."

"You quarreled violently?"

"I—we did not agree," stammered the Major.

"Did Mr. Ashton threaten to take the stone elsewhere?"

"He mentioned something of the sort, I believe."

"To which you objected strongly?"

"I protested, most certainly. I regarded the stone as my property. He acted as my agent only."

McQuade remained silent for some moments, then:

"Major Temple, I shall leave one of my men on the premises. When I return this evening I should like to hear the complete history of this jewel, so that we may the better understand how far the former owners would go in their efforts to recover it."

AFTER McQuade had gone, I suggested to Major Temple that I might remove myself and my belongings to Exeter, but he would not hear of it. I strolled into the town, however, and dispatched a telegram to my mother, in Torquay, advising her that I would be delayed in joining her. On my way back, just after sunset, as I emerged from the wood near a hedge which separated it from the kitchen-gardens of The Oaks I observed two figures standing near a gateway in the hedge, talking together earnestly. Just then they separated and one of them disappeared swiftly into the wood; the other advanced rapidly toward the house and I saw that it was Li Min. The circumstance filled me with vague suspicions.

Instinctively I turned toward the west wing and, as I reached the rear comer of the building, stepped back on the grass, beyond the gravel walk, to obtain a view of the windows above. Suddenly I tripped over an object in the grass and nearly fell. It was a short, thick, iron poker with a heavy octagonal brass knob at one end. As I held it in my hand, I realized at once that with such a weapon as this the strange wound in Ashton's head could readily have been made. But beyond being somewhat stained from lying in the wet grass, it showed no marks of the gruesome use to which I instinctively felt it had been put.

Wrapping it carefully in my handkerchief, I carried it to my room and took the precaution to lock it safely in one of the drawers of the dresser, pending an opportunity to show it privately to Sergeant McQuade upon his return from Exeter.


IN THE dimly lighted' library, after dinner, the Major proceeded to tell McQuade and myself his experiences, and those of Robert Ashton, in the pursuit of the Emerald Buddha. He seemed anxious to do this and showed no feeling of animosity toward the man from Scotland Yard.

"I spent almost all of last year," said the Major, "in the interior of China. My daughter and I arrived at Pekin early last Spring, and about a month afterward we began an extensive trip toward the west. We paid good prices for what we bought, had no religious views to promulgate, and by minding our own business strictly, we had no trouble with the natives of any serious moment. I had managed to pick up a few samples of old porcelain and one or two excellent ivories of great age and beauty, but beyond these, the trip had not yielded much in the way of curios for my collection, when in June we reached the city of Ping Yang.

"We found this place peculiarly interesting to us, with a population noticeably different from the inhabitants of the seaport towns, and we remained there perhaps a month. I spent a good deal of time wandering about the town, looking at such examples of old bronzes, embroideries, curious bits of jewelry, and so forth, as I could find in the shops and bazaars, and I frequently had occasion to pass a small Buddhist temple in one of the lower quarters of the town. It was a small one, but notable because a portion of the bone of the little finger of Buddha was said to be preserved among the relics of the shrine. I had frequently observed the priest sunning himself outside its doorway and on several occasions I had dropped some coins into his hand with a salutation which would be equivalent to our English 'Good Luck.'

"One day when I was passing I remarked to one of my servants, who understood English fairly well, that 1 was curious to see the interior of the shrine, and he, after a conversation with the temple priest, informed me that there would be no objection to my doing so.

"After the priest had shown me everything in the room with much pride—he seemed a simple and earnest old fellow—I made ready to depart and drew from my pocket a handful of brass coins and thrust them into his outstretched hands. He seemed deeply grateful and said a few words in his native tongue to my servant, who turned to me with the information that the priest was about to accord me an expecial honor by showing me the sacred relic of the Buddha.

"He approached the altar and, taking a key from his girdle, opened a small gold box covered with wonderful repoussé work, resting upon the knees of the god. Upon opening this box he drew forth a small ivory shrine, also elaborately carved, which he set upon the top of the first box and arranged so that the light from the candles fell upon it. He then opened the ivory box with a small gold key, and I looked in. The relic of the Buddha, a small and insignificant looking piece of dirty brown bone, I paid slight attention to, for in that box, glistening and glowing with the most wonderful color in the light of the candles stood the Emerald Buddha!

"I inquired as to the gem's history and was informed that it had been brought to Ping Yang many centuries before by the priest who brought the relic from Thibet and founded the temple. Neither the fact of its enormous size and value as a jewel, nor its priceless beauty as an example of most exquisite workmanship seemed to appeal to him. To him its value was solely of a religious nature, an image always venerated, next to the relic, as the most precious of all the temple's possessions.

"I told my servant to ask the priest if they would sell it, but he seemed disinclined to make the request until I repeated my injunction rather sharply. When the message had been repeated to the old .man, he scowled darkly and, hastily locking his treasures in their double box, he turned without making any reply and began to usher us from the room. I repeated the request, this time using my own store of Chinese, and drew forth a large roll of gold, but the priest waved me aside with an angry word, which sounded like a curse, and pointed to the door. There was nothing left but to go, and I did so, though with the bitterest regret.

"IN THE course of the next week I several times attempted to repeat my offer, but he invariably drew back with a look of intense hatred and refused to listen to me. Upon my fourth or fifth attempt I found him in company with several other Chinamen, who regarded me with dark looks and muttered imprecations, and the next time I appeared in the street I found myself surrounded by quite a mob of excited Chinamen, who assailed me with fierce curses and cries and even made as though to offer me personal violence.

"After that I felt that it would be unsafe for me to venture into that quarter of the town again, and a few days later, finding that even in other sections of the city I was regarded with evident suspicion and dislike, I decided to leave the place and return to Pekin and Hong Kong.

"It was in the latter city that I met Robert Ashton who, like myself, was collecting in China and who, I soon found, possessed an extraordinary knowledge of the subject. This formed a bond of sympathy between us. During our stay there we saw a great deal of Mr. Ashton and he soon became very attentive to my daughter. She seemed rather to welcome Mr. Ashton's attentions and I was gratified to think that in him I might find a son-in-law who would appreciate the collection which has been my life-work.

"He informed me that although he had been in Ping Yang he had never heard of the Emerald Buddha, and proposed to me that he should attempt to secure the jewel for me. I made light of this, but when he said in all seriousness one night that he would obtain it for me provided I would consent to his marriage to my daughter, I agreed, both because I felt his quest was absolutely hopeless, and because I saw no objections to him as a son-in-law in any event. I did not mention my agreement to my daughter, not wishing her to think I was bartering her in return for a mere jewel, and I felt certain she would welcome Mr. Ashton's advances. A few days later he departed for Pekin, and we started home by way of India and Suez.

"Upon my return I questioned my daughter and was amazed and horrified to learn that she bore toward Mr. Ashton a feeling almost of aversion. I explained to her about the promise and at my earnest request and almost at my command she wrote to Mr. Ashton, agreeing to abide by my wishes in the matter. That was six or eight months ago, and I heard nothing from him until two days ago, when he telegraphed that he had arrived in England and would come to see me at once."

"HIS story, as he related it to me last night, was like an adventure from the 'Arabian Nights.' He arrived in Ping Yang one evening at dusk, disguised as a Buddhist pilgrim monk with shaved head and staff in hand, and at once proceeded to the temple with an offering of flowers and prostrated himself before the shrine in prayer.

"Ashton continued in his place, muttering his prayers and pretending to be in great agony of spirit, until one by one the worshippers departed. He pretended to be suffering from some sudden illness, and lay upon the floor moaning pitifully. As the old priest bent over him in inquiry Ashton suddenly seized him by the throat and with his powerful hands choked him into silence. He then gagged him and, taking the keys of the small shrine, proceeded to abstract the coveted Emerald Buddha.

"By the next morning Ashton, with his servant, was miles away, journeying peaceably toward Pekin as an English traveler. His escape, however, was not to be so easily effected. After progressing toward Pekin for two days they became aware that they were being followed by a numerous party of Chinese upon horseback, armed with pikes, bows and arrows, and some muskets. Swerving from the main road, they abandoned their horses, and while Ashton hid in the underbrush, his servant procured at a near village a set of Chinese clothing which Ashton donned. From here on his adventures were exciting and varied, but they at last succeeded in reaching the coast.

"The rest of the story you know. God knows what influences have been at work in his taking off! As for me, I know no more about it than you do."

AS MAJOR TEMPLE concluded his story, he gazed at Sergeant McQuade and myself in turn, then passed his hand nervously over his forehead, as though the strain of the tragedy had begun to tell upon him severely. Biding him good-night, McQuade and I left the room, leaving him sitting dejectedly in his easy chair, patting the head of his great mastiff, Boris.


THE inquest, held the following day in tile A billiard-room, was a brief affair. The surgeon testified to a simple fracture of the skull, not necessarily sufficient to produce death, although capable of doing so when combined with nervous shock or a weakened condition of the heart. That one or both of the latter agencies had combined with the result of the blow was evidenced by Ashton's almost instantaneous death and the look of horror which was upon his face. There was nothing for the jury to do but render a verdict stating that Robert Ashton had come to his death through a blow upon the head, delivered with some sharp instrument by a person or persons unknown.

I spoke a few words to Sergeant McQuade at the close of the inquest and he informed me that he intended going up to London early that afternoon to interrogate the two Chinamen detained there since the preceding day, and upon my volunteering to accompany him, he seemed rather to welcome my suggestion. I knew perfectly well that until the mystery was solved, not only myself, but Major and Miss Temple and Li Min, as well as the other servants in the house would all be more or less under police surveillance, and I wanted if possible to stay with this case to the end—a feeling that became intensified whenever I thought of Muriel Temple. If I could do anything to help her, I would, cost what it might.

I hastened to my room, therefore, and for a time busied myself in arranging my luggage. As I did so I thought I heard a slight sound in the green room across the hall, the one in which the tragedy had occurred, and glancing into the mirror of my dresser, I saw Li Min. He was evidently searching for something. Now if he, or any of his confederates had killed Ashton, they certainly must have secured the Emerald Buddha and taken it with them; the empty case, I remembered, lay upon the table. What then, could this Chinaman be searching for with such evident eagerness and anxiety?

With a few rapid steps I crossed the intervening hall and appeared in the doorway. He at once appeared confused, and made a quick pretense of being busily occupied in the business of setting the room to rights. Then I became aware of a curiously pungent, yet sweet, aromatic odor, which had something vaguely familiar about it, and suddenly it flashed into my mind that this was the curious scent I had noticed upon Miss Temple's handkerchief—the one dropped by her in Ashton's room.

After some careful experimenting, I found that it came from a small cake of soap, of a dull green color, which lay upon the washstand where it had evidently been left by Ashton. I picked it up, observing its perfume closely, then, noticing that the Chinaman was regarding me with a particularly malevolent gaze, I retired to my room, taking the soap with me. I had no definite purpose in this except to keep it in order to identify the perfume. I threw it into my satchel and completed the arrangements for my departure.

I WAS soon ready to go, and after living my bag with one of McQuade's men, who was to accompany us- to the railway station, I sought Miss Temple in the hope of saying good-by to her before my departure. I was lucky enough to find her in the library, sewing, and looking unusually pale and distressed. She greeted me with rising color, and I confess that I, too, felt a trifle of embarrassment. But the beauty of her face, the clear, honest expression of her eyes once more convinced me that whatever were her reasons for silence they did not in any way implicate her in this tangled affair.

"I have come to say good-by," I said.

"Oh, are you going—I did not know——" She half rose, her face filled with lively concern.

"I'm afraid I've already overstayed my time," I replied. "After all, Miss Temple, I came as a stranger and must thank you and your father for making me as welcome as you have under the existing painful circumstances."

"I have not thought of you as a stranger, Mr. Morgan," she answered simply. "You have been a great help during this trying ordeal, and I am sorry that you must go— very sorry." There was a ring of sincerity in her voice that thrilled me. My heart gave a leap, and as I met her eyes I realized all of a sudden that go where I might, I could not go very far away from Muriel Temple. "I do not go because I desire it," I replied, in a voice from which I could not eliminate the depth and intensity of my feelings, "but if it lies in my power I intend to find the solution of this terrible affair. My reward, if I can do so, will be the knowledge that I have served you."

"You are very good, Mr. Morgan. I shall never forget it—never!" She rose and placed her hand in mine, and allowed it to remain there for a moment—a moment which seemed far too short to me. "And when you have good news, you will come to The Oaks and tell us about it, will you not?" she concluded, with a smile that went to my heart.

"Indeed I shall, Miss Temple—you may be sure of that! And I hope it may be soon."

"So do I," she said, and I turned to leave her. Then I suddenly bethought myself of the strange Oriental perfume. "Miss Temple," I said, with some hesitation—"you will pardon me, I know, but you may remember that the handkerchief which was found in Mr. Ashton's room was strongly scented with a powerful Oriental perfume. May I ask what that perfume is, and where you procured it?"

"Perfume?" she ejaculated, in surprise. "Why, Mr. Morgan, I never use any— never!"

"You never use any?" I stammered. "But it was upon your handkerchief—I thought that perhaps you might have got it during your travels in China."

"The handkerchief was mine, Mr. Morgan—that is true, but of the perfume I know absolutely nothing. Why do you ask?"

I hardly knew what reply to make. The identity of the perfume of the soap and the handkerchief meant nothing—pointed to nothing, and yet I could not shake off the idea that there was some intimate connection between them which would go far toward solving the mystery of Robert Ashton's death. I bade her good-by with some simple explanation of my question, and hurried out to find McQuade.

I FOUND him with one of his men upon the porch roof busily engaged in making photographs of the bloody hand-print upon the window-sill of the green room.

"Is it not a curious fact, Mr. Morgan," he remarked, as he reached the foot of the short ladder he had used to ascend to the roof, "that although Li Min had not only the motive for the murder, namely the securing of the Emerald Buddha, but also the opportunity, and while the hand-print which I have been photographing is small and delicate, like that of a woman or of Li Min, yet I can see no possible way in which the windows and doors of that room could have been bolted after the crime was committed, neither Major Temple or yourself having any reason to do it were Li Min the guilty person. I have been prepared to believe all along that Li Min was on this roof at or near daybreak yesterday morning and I do not mind telling you I have discovered certain evidence which had before escaped me. Yet how could he have entered that room, murdered Mr. Ashton, secured the jewel, climbed out of the window and shut and bolted it behind him on the inside is beyond my comprehension!"

"Have you searched the attic above the room?" I asked.

"Thoroughly," he replied. "The lath and plaster of the ceiling are absolutely unbroken. The four walls offer equal impossibilities."

"Then it would seem that we have exhausted all possible clews," I observed. I did not think it worth while to take him into my confidence regarding Li Min, or the perfumed soap; and the brass-headed poker which I had placed in the drawer in my room I had for the moment completely forgotten.

"So it seems," he remarked thoughtfully. "This is by long odds the strangest case I have ever worked on."

As we rounded the corner of the house we suddenly saw Li Min dart out of the main entrance, closely pursued by the officer to whom I had entrusted my luggage. The Chinaman carried in his hand my Gladstone bag and was running with incredible swiftness toward the road. Before I had time to make a move, McQuade darted forward and intercepted him, knocking from his hand with lightning-like quickness a long knife which he drew from his blouse. The two of them tumbled over upon the turf, McQuade rising first with my satchel in his hand. He looked at it, and seeing my name upon it, handed it to me with a grim smile. "You must have a valuable kit here, sir," he said, "or else this fellow has taken leave of his senses!"

He nodded to his assistant, who promptly stepped forward and snapped a pair of handcuffs upon the sullen looking Oriental. "The whole outfit isn't worth five pounds," I said, laughing, and picked up the satchel. As I did so the catch came open and my small collection of flannel shirts, toilet articles, sketching materials, and so forth, tumbled upon the grass. McQuade joined in my laugh and assisted me in replacing my effects. "Nothing much here, sir," he said, but I did not fail to notice that he observed each article closely as we repacked the satchel.

WE DROVE to town in the high cart, and after depositing the Chinaman at the jail, took a hurried lunch at the Half Moon and left for London. on the early afternoon express, arriving at Waterloo Station about dusk. I gave McQuade the address of my lodgings and studio in Tottenham Court Road, and I left him with the understanding that if anything significant developed he would call upon me if I could assist him in any way.

It was past eight when I arrived at my studio. I must have been unusually tired, for I dozed in my chair, and was not aroused until after eleven, when I heard a loud knock at the studio door. I sprang up, somewhat confused, and opening the door found under it a note from McQuade, requesting me to meet him at once at Number 30 Kingsgate Street. I threw on a warm coat and soft hat and summoned a cab. The driver looked a bit surprised at the address, and asked me to repeat it.

I rejoiced in the hope that the examination of the two Exeter Chinamen had resulted in the discovery of both the missing jewel and the murderer, and thought with pleasure of the happy tidings I should bring to Muriel. It was while occupied in these dreams that I felt my cab draw up alongside the curb, just as the hour of midnight was striking from old St. Paul's.

The house was an old one, and its exterior was gloomy and forbidding. The whole atmosphere of the place was depressing in the extreme, and I pulled the bell with feelings of inward trepidation. So long an interval elapsed before any response came that I was on the point of ringing it again, when I suddenly heard soft footsteps in the hallway and the door was silently opened. I stepped within, mechanically, unable to observe the person who had admitted me.

I had taken but a single step into the passage, when the door was swiftly closed behind me and at the same instant a bag of heavy cloth was thrust over my head and my arms were pinioned from behind in a vice-like grip. The bag was drawn closely about my throat by a noose in the edge of it, and before I knew it I felt myself being slowly but surely strangled.


I WAS lifted bodily by two or three silent figures and carried a considerable distance, part of the way down a steep flight of stairs and through what might have been a tunnel or cellar. Presently I heard the opening of a heavy door and in a moment I was thrown roughly upon a bench, and my pockets systematically searched. My captors evidently were not looking for money, for the only thing they took from me were my keys. After this they left me, huddled up in a comer of the bench, afraid to cry out or make a move in any direction.

The room in which I now found myself was as silent as the tomb, and yet I felt that it was lighted brightly and that there were others in it besides myself. I could feel that it was warm, and through the folds of the bag about my head came the acrid, half-sweet smell of opium or Chinese incense, or both. I realized at once that I was in the hands of some of Li Min's friends, and no doubt the note which purported to come from McQuade had been merely a decoy. I recollected now with vividness the interview I had witnessed the afternoon before between Li Min and some fellow countryman of his at the gateway in the hedge back of The Oaks. No doubt the crafty Oriental had kept his confederates in London fully posted as to both my movements and those of Sergeant McQuade. What on earth they could want with me I was unable to imagine.

I reached out softly with my right hand—I had not been bound—and touched a wall, hung with heavy embroidered satin. The bench upon which I sat was of hard polished wood. I readied up quickly, loosed the cord which held the bag tightly about my neck, and with a swift motion, lifted it from my head. The sight I beheld astounded me.

I was in a long, low room, the bench upon which I sat being at the extreme end of it. The walls were hung from end to end with bright colored satin, wonderfully embroidered with birds, flowers, dragons and strange Chinese characters. The floor was of wood, dark, and polished with the walking of countless softly-shod feet. Facing me at the far end of the room was a great red and gold wooden screen, carved and lacquered, and representing some mysterious Chinese figures, whether gods or demons I could not tell. In the center of this screen was an opening, a sort of altar, brightly lighted by a large number of wax candles, within which hung a representation of the god Buddha, marvelously embroidered upon dull red satin, with gold and silver threads. Behind the candles stood a small gold casket, or shrine, the door of which was standing open, disclosing an empty interior. The altar in front of the candles was covered with a profusion of dishes containing flowers, rice and other foods.

Before the altar knelt a tall, gaunt figure, his back tinned toward me, bowed in prayer. He wore a long, dark brown robe, girdled loosely about the waist with a leather belt, and his gray hair was confined in a long queue which hung below his waist. He took no notice whatever of my movements and remained in silent contemplation of the picture of the god before him. A number of sticks of incense were burning in a brass jar upon the altar and the room was filled with a thin, waving, blue haze, which circled softly around the great painted silk lanterns hung from the ceiling.

I felt as though I had been suddenly and mysteriously transported from a dark and gloomy London street to some wonderful temple in the far off city of Pekin. I rubbed my eyes, and moved uneasily upon my hard bench, but no movement upon the part of the silent worshipper indicated that he so much as knew of my presence.

SUDDENLY a door at my left was opened and I observed two dark and forbidding-looking Chinamen enter, carrying between them a limp and apparently lifeless figure, which they placed upon the bench beside me. The figure was not blindfolded as I had been, and I recoiled, sick and trembling. It was Sergeant McQuade!

The Chinamen paid no attention to me, and quietly withdrew. I placed my hand upon the detective's heart, and was overjoyed to find that it still beat. In a few moments I saw his eyes slowly open and he clutched feebly at his throat. I followed his movements and found a heavy cord about his neck, so tightly drawn as almost to prevent his breathing. This I quickly removed and in a few moments he was able to speak. His first words, after a glance of intense surprise at our surroundings, were to ask me why I had sent for him. I told him I had not done so.

"But you asked me to come to this address at once—that you had important news. I have two men outside, but these devils got me before I could blow my whistle. Not much use to try it now!" he observed, looking about grimly.

"I sent you no note," I replied. "On the contrary, I got one from you. That is why I am here."

"We are both nicely trapped, it seems!" he growled. "What have you learned—anything?"

"Nothing. They took my bunch of keys and left me here."

"Your keys!" he muttered, softly. "Your keys. What could they have wanted with them?" He seemed lost in thought.

Further conversation was interrupted by the sudden opening of the door on our left. Some score or more of Chinamen crowded in and were at once joined by the figure of the priest, who rose to his feet and advanced toward the center of the room. He was a terrible looking old man, his face drawn and leathery, his eyes like burning coals, his mouth cruel and thin-lipped. All the others seemed to pay him deep respect. One of their number advanced and handed him a large object, which he eagerly grasped. It was my Gladstone bag. McQuade and I glanced at each other in sudden comprehension.

The old priest placed the bag upon the floor and proceeded to ransack it with eager, trembling hands. The others crowded about, every face tense and full of expectation. Presently his eye fell upon the small green cake of soap which I had thrown loosely into the bag upon my departure from The Oaks. He seized it with a cry of triumph and, taking a knife from his girdle, proceeded with extreme care to cut the cake of soap in two. The crowding figures about him hung upon his movements with intense anxiety. The room was as silent as death. Suddenly, with a loud cry, the priest broke the cake of soap in two, and there, within it, in a cavity about two inches long, lay the lost Emerald Buddha, its wonderful color flashing and glowing in the light from the lantern above!

I was absolutely dumb with amazement. Undeniably there before me lay the cause of Mr. Ashton's death, yet how it came to be in that cake of soap, and what light its presence there threw upon the manner of his sudden and tragic end, was beyond my comprehension. That it might cause suspicion to point in my direction did not for the moment occur to me.

THE kneeling priest rose to his feet with a glad cry and, holding the image reverently in the hollow of his two hands, advanced toward the altar, the others crowding closely about him. Arrived at the shrine, he placed the figure carefully upon its pedestal within the golden casket, and as the light of many candles fell full upon it, the whole crowd knelt down and began a weird, sing-song prayer that must have been a chant of joy, or some service of purification, now that their long lost deity had been returned to them. Presently the strange sounds died away, and the various Chinamen placed offerings of fruit, flowers and food upon the altar. The priest rose, and faced us. I had a feeling that our turn was now to come.

The tall, gaunt figure came close to us and examined both our faces minutely. I fancy he was the same priest that Ashton had all but done for in Ping Yang and, from his look of intense hatred and ferocity, I feel sure that had he recognized McQuade or myself as either his assailant or Major Temple, our moments in this life would have been numbered. In answer apparently to the questions of his followers he shook his head vigorously.

Then ensued a heated altercation between himself and part of the Chinamen on the one hand and the remainder of the crowd on the other, the subject of which, I could plainly see, was the fate of the detective and myself. At last they all tinned back to the altar, and the priest took from it two pieces of wood, slightly curved, some four or five inches long, and shaped not unlike the half of a banana if it were cut in two lengthwise. I saw that they were the Chinese lucksticks, which the petitioner casts before the altar, wishing, as he does so, for that prayer which he desires the god to grant him. If the sticks fall with the flat sides of both upward, he is lucky—his prayer is granted; if with the flat sides of both downward, his prayer is refused. If one stick falls each way, there is no decision and the trial is made again.

As the priest took up these sticks from the altar a gleam of comprehension passed over the faces of the crowd about him. Several of their number sprang forward and dragged us before the altar. It was evidently their intention to leave the matter of our fate in the hands of the Buddha, and as I glanced at the peaceful and beneficent face of the image before me I wondered whether he, or blind luck, would control our destinies. McQuade they took first. He was led directly in front of the altar, and the two sticks, placed with the flat sides together, were put into his hands. He was then directed, by signs and a few muttered English words, to cast them upon the slab, and in a moment the hardwood sticks clattered before the altar. I leaned forward anxiously and looked at them. The flat sides of both were upward! McQuade was safe.

THE Chinamen thrust him aside angrily, and bent upon me their angry glances. I was pushed forward by many hands, and the luck-sticks forced into my unwilling fingers. I had never thought much about death, and now it approached me in all its grisly terrors. McQuade had been spared my agony, for I felt sure he did not know the meaning of the ceremony through which he had just passed. He had thrown dice with death, and won, and yet he did not know it. But to me, the trial came in all its horrible reality. I knew that upon the fall of those bits of wood depended my life—that within a few seconds of time I should either be free, or condemned to die by one of those unspeakably horrible means that only the Chinese understand and delight in. Their deity had been profaned and they wanted a victim, and if his downturned thumb claimed me as a sacrifice, I knew that no power on earth could save me.

I shook with nervous dread, not so much through fear of death itself as of the manner of dying. My hands trembled—I could scarcely keep the sticks from falling to the floor. Presently I pulled myself together and determined to put a brave face upon the matter. The Chinamen about me were enjoying my sufferings keenly, as I could see from the diabolic grins upon their dark faces.

I threw the sticks from me with a quick nervous movement, and then almost feared to look upon them. At last I did so, and what I saw was almost as bad as what I feared to see. Instead of the two flat sides of the sticks being uppermost, they lay one each way, and I was forced to throw again. The Chinese were evidently delighted. Any method of torture which is prolonged seems to please them beyond measure. I have heard that one of the most terrible they have invented is that of keeping a prisoner awake. For days and days sleep is prevented, and the victim ultimately goes raving mad.

My nerves were too much shaken to prolong the agony. I cast the sticks again upon the altar-slab and bent over them with a prayer to God. One stick fell at once with its flat side uppermost. The other rolled over and over until it rested almost at the Buddha's feet. At last it trembled, half turned over, then stopped. It, like the other, gave the favorable sign! I was saved!

In the sudden relief from the nervous tension I almost fell, but the Chinamen, cheated of their revenge, gave me no time for any such exhibitions of emotion. McQuade and I were seized and in a few moments our arms were tightly bound behind us and heavy bags placed over our heads. We were then roughly hurried through a series of rooms, once crossing what seemed to be a brick-paved court, undoubtedly in the open air, then for an interminable distance through what seemed to be dark narrow lanes and muddy streets, until at last our hoods were removed, our feet bound, and we were thrown into a narrow area-way, some cotton-waste being jammed into our mouths to prevent our making any outcry.

HERE we were discovered at daym break, some four or five horns later, nearly frozen to death, by a watchman who released us from our bonds and, upon hearing from Sergeant McQuade who he was, hastened to find us a cab.

The detective drove at once to number 30 Kingsgate Street and, finding his two men still on duty, ordered them to enter the house. The bell giving no response, McQuade and his men burst in the door. The house was completely unfurnished. We descended into the cellar, but found no signs of occupancy anywhere. Evidently there was a tunnel somewhere, leading from this house to some other in the neighborhood, or else the Chinamen had boldly carried us out through the backyard and into some house adjoining. The Sergeant ordered his men to return to Scotland Yard, obtain a relief and investigate every house in the block and even those on the opposite side of the street. I felt no great interest in the capture of the Chinamen. They had the Emerald Buddha, with a better right to it than ever Ashton had, and it seemed useless to bring trouble upon any relatives of his by placing in their hands so dangerous an article. I was infinitely more concerned in determining who was responsible for Robert Ashton's death.

I left McQuade and returned to my studio, agreeing to meet him there at three the same afternoon and return to The Oaks with him. Why he wished to go I did not then see, but I was only too glad of an opportunity to see Miss Temple again. In reply to my questions as to the two Chinamen from Exeter, he informed me that they knew nothing of the matter and had been discharged.


I WAS awaiting McQuade's arrival, when a messenger boy dashed up to my door and handed me a telegram.

Police have discovered weapon in your room wrapped in your handkerchief.
Muriel Temple.

So strong is the consciousness of innocence that even after reading this telegram I had no thought of what this new discovery might portend for me. It was strange, I thought, that I had forgotten the thing. I laid it open upon the table, thinking that if the Scotland Yard man did not already know of the discovery, I would be able to inform him of it on his arrival.

He came on the stroke of three and with him a burly, deep-chested, ruddy-faced man with twinkling eyes and iron-gray whiskers, whom he introduced to me as Inspector Burns, of Scotland Yard.

"I have brought Inspector Burns with me," McQuade said slowly. "He wants to ask you a few questions."

I turned to the Inspector and smiled.

"Mr. Morgan," he began, "about that cake of soap which contained the missing jewel—will you be so good as to tell Sergeant McQuade and myself how it happened to be in your possession?"

"Certainly," I replied, without hesitation, and outlined the facts.

"Mr. Morgan," inquired Inspector Burns, when I had finished, "why, since you were pretending to assist Sergeant McQuade by every means in. your power, did you fail to disclose to him the facts you haye just related? Did you have any reason to suspect that the jewel was hidden in the cake of soap?"

"None whatever. I did not mention the matter to the Sergeant because it seemed too vague and unimportant."

The Inspector frowned. "You committed a grave error. I dislike to imply that it might have been anything worse." I began to feel indignant at the tone and manner in which he was conducting his cross-questioning.

"Is it not true, Mr. Morgan," he asked suddenly, "that Miss Temple was violently opposed to any marriage with Mr. Ashton, and that either his death, or the abstracting of the jewel which was to have been the price paid by him for her hand, would have been of great benefit to her?"

"I suppose they would," I answered sulkily, "if you put it that way."

"Did not Miss Temple ask you to assist her in preventing this marriage, Mr. Morgan, and did you pot promise to help her in every way in your power?"

"This is absurd!" I cried. "You will be accusing me of murdering Mr. Ashton next!"

"We only know, so far, that the jewel for which Mr. Ashton was murdered has been found in your possession!"

The significant way in which he uttered these words thrilled me with a vague sense of alarm. There upon the table, before Sergeant McQuade, lay Miss Temple's telegram. It was open, and I felt sure he had already read it. My mind seemed confused, my brain on fire. The Inspector turned to McQuade. "Sergeant," he said, "you have the handkerchief in question with you, I believe."

McQuade drew from his pocket the folded handkerchief and requested me to examine its surface with a magnifying-glass. I did so, and observed that it was covered with minute particles of some green substance.

"Do you see anything?" asked the Inspector.

"Yes," I replied. "The handkerchief is full of fine green specks, but I can not imagine what they are."

"They are bits of soap, Mr. Morgan."


"Exactly." The Inspector looked at me keenly. "Has it-not occurred to you, Mr. Morgan, that it was first necessary to out it in two and hollow out a space in the interior? Is it not also quite evident that bits of soap must have been carefully collected upon some object, this handkerchief for instance, and subsequently thrown away, leaving the minute particles that you see still clinging to its surface?"

"Yes," I replied, dazed, "but who?"

"THAT, Mr. Morgan, is just what we are trying to find out. It hardly seems likely that Mr. Ashton would have gone to all this trouble, although it is possible, since he had reason, after his quarrel with Major Temple, to fear an attempt to gain possession of the jewel. If he did, how does it happen that he used Miss Temple's handkerchief for the purpose? He may have found it upon the, floor and so utilized it, but it seems unlikely."

"What then, seems more likely?" I asked hotly. "Would the murderer have gone to all that trouble to get the stone and then have left it behind?"

"Possibly, Mr. Morgan, to have been recovered at leisure—as you, indeed, happened to recover it. Such a jewel would not be a good thing to have in one's possession immediately after the murder!"

"But it would have taken fifteen or twenty minutes," I objected, "and we burst in the door within less than ten minutes from the time Mr. Ashton's cry was heard."

"The alarm was given by you, Mr. Morgan. You alone heard Mr. Ashton's cry. Whether you heard it at six o'clock, or five, or four rests upon your word alone. We do not accuse you, remember—we are trying to arrive at the truth. The facts we have just stated, coupled with Miss Temple's refusal to explain her early expedition from the house that morning, all point to something we do not yet understand. We are convinced of one thing: that the Chinaman did not commit the murder, for he would have taken the stone along with him."

"I do not agree with you there," I said. "Mr. Ashton may have hidden the jewel himself, and then the Chinaman, after committing the murder, may have been unable to find it. That would account for Li Min's subsequent search of the room, and his confederates' actions when they began to suspect that the emerald was hidden within it."

"You are right in what you say, Mr. Morgan, if Mr. Ashton hid the jewel himself. But the subsequent actions of Li Min and his confederates are equally explainable upon the theory that they had nothing to do with the murder whatever and were merely attempting to steal the jewel at the first opportunity."

I made no reply. They seemed to be weaving a net of circumstantial evidence about me that, try as I would, I did not seem able to break through.

"We now come to another curious fact," continued the Inspector. "The weapon with which this murder was apparently committed was found this morning locked in a drawer in the room you occupied at Major Temple's house. It was wrapped in a handkerchief marked with your initials. Can you tell us how it came to be there?"

I turned to the Inspector with a bitter laugh. "I can tell you," I replied, "but I presume you will not believe me. I put the weapon, which was a brass-headed poker, there myself. I found it on the lawn outside of Mr. Ashton's window the day before yesterday."

" Why did you also conceal this important piece of evidence from Sergeant McQuade?" demanded the Inspector in a stern voice.

I felt like a fool, and looked like one as well, I fear. "I forgot it," I mumbled in confusion.

"You forgot it! Can you expect a sane man to believe any such folly as that?"

"Folly, or not," I replied, "it is the truth! I intended to show it privately to Sergeant McQuade. He was in Exeter at the time and I placed it in the drawer for safe keeping; when he returned that evening, it was just in time to listen to Major Temple's story of his experiences in China, and when he had finished, it was close to midnight and the matter had completely slipped my mind. The inquest the following morning took my entire attention, and after that the sudden arrest of Li Min, and our departure for London. You know what has occurred since. I had forgotten the matter completely until I received this telegram from Miss Temple not half an hour before you came." I took the dispatch from the table and handed it to the Inspector, who read it with interest.

"Why did Miss Temple send you this?" he inquired suddenly.

"I do not know—I suppose she thought it would be of interest to me."

" Did it not occur to you that it might be in the nature of a warning?"

Again I saw a chasm yawning before me.

"Miss Temple has no reason to suspect me of any part in the matter," I replied. "Do you think it likely that, if I had committed the murder, I could have left such damning evidence where the police would have been certain to discover it, and wrapped in my own handkerchief? I am as innocent of any complicity in Mr. Ashton's murder as you are!"

"I HAVE no objection, Mr. Morgan, to outlining a theory of the murder which seems to fit the facts as we know them. Miss Temple, desperate and detesting Ashton, retired to her room, but could not sleep. At some hour later she went to Ashton's room. He refused to give up her letter, they quarreled and in her rage she grasped the poker and struck him with it. Believing him only stunned, she secured the jewel, but fearing to take it from the room and wishing only to prevent Mr. Ashton from using it, she hid it in the cake of soap. The pieces, collected upon her handkerchief, were thrown out of the window. But on feeling Ashton's heart, she found it very weak, and to destroy the evidence, she threw the poker out of the window, and hurriedly left the room, forgetting the handkerchief in her agitation.

Toward morning she decided to flee and changed her clothes and shoes, but once more went to Ashton's room, to assure herself that he no longer lived. In doing this she awoke you, by accident or design. She threw herself upon your mercy, and you agreed to stand by her, advised against running away, but suggested that she go down and get the poker so that it might be replaced or otherwise disposed of. You meanwhile entered the room, bolted the door on the inside, and left by the window. It is probable that you examined the body, your hand became stained with blood, and you rested it upon the sill while closing the window. You then reentered by the hall window, meeting Miss Temple and taking the poker from her.

"You placed it in your room, meanwhile urging her to change her dress and shoes. A little later you aroused the house and rebolted the window while Major Temple was not observing you. You later secured the soap containing the jewel. You no doubt intended to replace the poker, but no opportunity occurred."

He glanced at me triumphantly. I laughed, though with little mirth.. "Why don't you simply say I killed Ashton and put the weapon in my dresser, and leave Miss Temple out of it entirely?" I said. "It's equally plausible."

"Possibly so, though that would account for neither the handkerchief nor Miss Temple's leaving the house that morning."

"She has already accounted for the one, she can readily do so for the other," I replied.

"That we shall see," said the Inspector, rising from his chair. "We will go to Exeter at once, and question Miss Temple."


INSPECTOR BURNS and his companion had left me to myself on the trip down, and I turned over in my mind the curious events of the past forty-eight horns. My conversation with- Miss Temple on the night of the murder had, I presumed, been overheard by one of the servants, from whom it had been wormed by McQuade's men during my absence. But the thought that Muriel Temple could be guilty was preposterous. I knew that I was prejudiced in her favor, that I had come to love her, that nothing could ever change it, but only two real bits of evidence connected her with Ashton's death—one, the presence of. her handkerchief in the room and the curious use to which it had been put; the other, her early morning expedition from the house and her sudden return. If she would but explain the latter, I felt sure Inspector Burns' theory would fall to the ground like a house of cards. Why she refused to do so, I could not imagine— that she had some strong compelling reason, I felt sure. What? Was she shielding her father? I could not believe that even for her father's sake she would allow an innocent person to be accused.

On arriving at The Oaks, Inspector Burns asked to see the scene of the murder and to interview Miss Temple " My daughter has retired, I fancy," the Major said. "I have not seen her since dinner, but I will send her word." He led the way, his mastiff, Boris, bringing up the rear. We first entered the room I had occupied. The drawer was soon unlocked and there lay the wretched poker wrapped in my handkerchief, just as I had left it. Inspector Burns took it up. "Hardly heavy enough to fracture a man's skull," he muttered. "What do you know about this thing?" he inquired of Major Temple.

The Major looked puzzled. He had not seen the weapon before. I wondered how Miss Temple came to know of it, in order to notify me.

"It is half of an old poker," he replied, "that I gave to the gardener for a stake in laying out his flower-beds. It had been roughly ground to a point, as you see, so that it might be readily thrust into the earth. The last time I saw it he was using it upon the pathways about the house."

"Then it was not in the green room?" asked the Inspector.

"Never, to my knowledge," said Major Temple. "There is jio fireplace in that room!"

The Inspector closed the drawer with a slam. "Then if this was the weapon the murderer used," he said, rather lamely, "he must have-taken it along with him."

WE ALL adjourned to the green room which the Inspector went over without discovering anything new. The dog seemed strangely oppressed by the surroundings, but after sniffing about nervously with a low whine, crawled under the bed and lay quiet. We were on the point of leaving when the maid rushed in and, calling Major Temple aside, handed him a sealed envelope. The Major passed his hand nervously over his forehead, and turned to us. "Gentlemen," he said, in a frightened voice, "Miss Temple can not be found!"

We all tinned toward him in intense surprise. "What does this mean?" asked the Inspector. "Where is she?"

"This note, addressed to me, was lying upon her writing-desk," replied the Major in a daze.

"Read it," commanded the Inspector, as we all hastily adjourned to the library.

Major Temple opened the letter with trembling fingers; then read aloud:

My Dear Father: I am going to London to see Mr. Morgan. They suspect him of the murder. I overheard the police talking about it this morning. I do not know what to do. I can not let an innocent person suffer. It may be better for me to remain away altogether. If I must speak I can only ask for forgiveness.

If the earth had opened up and engulfed me I could not have been more astounded. I glanced at her father—he seemed shrunken and old, his head bowed upon his breast. Could he—I refused to think—yet he feared either for himself, or, God help me, for her. No consideration for any one else could have so terribly affected him. I looked at the cold, accusing faces of the two Scotland Yard men and groaned inwardly. In a moment the Inspector spoke. "Have you a telephone in the house, Major Temple?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the Major, rousing himself from his lethargy. "In the hall, near the foot of the staircase."

The Inspector nodded to McQuade, who arose without a word and left the room. The net was fast closing about some one, but about whom I could not yet see.

"Mr. Morgan, have you anything to say in explanation of this letter?" I heard Major Temple asking me.

"Miss Temple writes as though she believed you would understand what she means," I replied. "I certainly do not."

"I?" cried the Major. "It's absolute nonsense to me!" He threw up his hands in absolute dismay. If this were acting, I thought, it could not be better done.

"You have heard my theory of the murder, Mr. Morgan," said the Inspector coldly. "The note is plain enough. She will confess before she will allow you to bear the penalty of her crime."

"Her crime!" Major Temple was on his feet in an instant, his eyes blazing. "Your words are ill chosen, sir!" Poor man, he did not know of the damning circumstances the Inspector had so cleverly woven into his accusing theory.

"Not at all, Major Temple," replied the imperturbable Inspector. "Sergeant McQuade is at present ordering the arrest of your daughter. She will be apprehended as soon as she arrives in London, and we will hear her story at the Magistrate's hearing to-morrow."

"But," I cried, in consternation, "this is ridiculous! Don't you see that----"

"Mr. Morgan, the time has come for the truth. It is my painful duty to place you under arrest!"

"On what charge?" I demanded hotly.

"For complicity in Robert Ashton's minder!" he replied, and placed his hand upon my shoulder.

I SPENT a dreary enough night in the library, sometimes talking with McQuade, who dozed upon a couch, but for the most part engaged on the maddening problem of Robert Ashton's death.

I fell into a doze toward morning, and awoke trembling, and listened. Far off I heard the mournful howling of a dog, a series of low, unearthly howls that would die slowly away only to be once more repeated. It seemed like the moaning of an animal in great pain. Presently, as I listened, there came a great yelp, and thereafter silence. The matter had passed from my mind by the time our coffee was brought to us, and a little later we set out for the town.

On arrival, I made my first acquaintance with the interior of a cell. McQuade informed me I would be taken before the Magistrate for a hearing at ten o'clock. I asked whether he had received any word regarding Miss Temple, and he told me she would arrive during the forenoon. Major Temple and the servants were to come in to the hearing, at which they would be wanted as witnesses. I secured a morning paper and resigned myself to a tedious wait of somewhat over two hours. I was strangely calm and self-possessed. The ordeal through which I was about to pass seemed to give me slight concern. But for Miss Temple I feared greatly.


WHEN I was led forth and placed in the dock I gazed at the crowded benches before me with a dull sense of annoyance. I looked up at the Magistrate and found him to be a little red-faced man, with a stern, but not unkind expression. The finding of the coroner's inquest was first read, and then Major Temple was placed upon the witness stand. The old gentleman looked more shrunken and old than ever—his face was yellow, his eyes hollow and heavy from want of sleep, his hands trembling with excitement. I could well understand his agitation, with his daughter under arrest and hurrying to Exeter to undergo that most terrible of all ordeals, a hearing on a charge of murder. The Magistrate began his examination with characteristic incisiveness.

"Major Temple," he said, "you are here as a witness in the case of Mr. Owen Morgan charged with complicity in the murder of Robert Ashton."

The Major bowed, but remained silent. Then followed some preliminary questions establishing the facts that I had been a stranger to all of them, that I had seen and knew the value of the Emerald Buddha, and that the Major had insisted,, against his daughter's will, upon carrying out the-marriage agreement with Ashton.

"The securing of the jewel, then, from Mr. Ashton, would have released her from the arrangement?"

"If Mr. Ashton had not had it he could not have carried out his agreement, of course."

"At what time did you retire on the night of the murder?"

"Shortly before midnight."

Further questioning brought out the events of that night as the reader already knows them, up to our finding Ashton on the floor dead.

"Could Mr. Morgan have fastened the window without your knowing it?"

"I suppose he could—I paid little attention to him."

"What happened then?"

"After our examination of the room we closed and locked the door. We then had some coffee, after which Mr. Morgan went into Exeter and notified the police."

"Major Temple, there is a window at the end of the hallway in the west wing, which opens on to the roof over the porch. Is this window usually bolted?"

"Always. I generally see to it myself. I have a valuable collection and am afraid of thieves."

"Did you do so that night?"

"I did. I saw that it was bolted after seeing Mr. Ashton to his room and before retiring to my own."

This comprised the bulk of Major Temple's testimony. He was followed by Gibson, who corroborated all that his master had said, and similar testimony was given by the maid. There was a feature of the latter's testimony, however, which bore more directly upon the case. She had been, it seems, on the landing of the main stairway, after dinner, waiting for Miss Temple to come up-stairs. It was her habit to sit there, she said, while waiting for Miss Temple. In this position she was almost directly above the latter and myself during the conversation we had had immediately after dinner on the night of the tragedy. She testified that she had heard Miss Temple say in a loud and agitated voice that she would "never marry Robert Ashton, never!" and asked me to help her, and that I had replied that she could depend upon me absolutely. Immediately after this her mistress had come up-stairs and gone to her room.

"Did you accompany her to her room?" asked the Magistrate.

"No, sir. She told me as how she intended to read until quite late, sir, and that I could go to bed at once, as she would not require my assistance."

"Was this unusual?"

"It was, a bit, sir. I most always helped her to undress, sir."

"And you went to your room at once?"

"Yes, sir. I did, sir, and to sleep, sir."

"How were you awakened?"

"I heard some one crying 'Help! Help!' I threw on some clothes as quick as I could, sir, and ran out into the hall. Then I seen the master run into the hallway of the west wing, and Gibson after him, and I follows them. After that, sir, I was sent for a candle."

The testimony of the other servants was similar to that of Gibson and the maid. They had heard some one crying for help, and had rushed into the hall.

SERGEANT McQUADE'S testimony was, in some ways, the most interesting of all. I began to see that this astute gentleman had by no means been as frank with me as I had been with him. He testified to finding Miss Temple's handkerchief in Mr. Ashton's room, and to finding the window at the end of the hallway unbolted. He produced photographs and measurements of the bloody hand-print found upon Mr. Ashton's windowsill and compared them with measurements made of my hands earlier in the day.

It appeared that, while the hand-print was small and too smeared for absolute identification, it could readily have been made by my hand, which is rather below medium size. He testified that he found similar marks upon the sill of the hall window, pointing inward; also scratches in the paint, evidently made by some one climbing through the window from without; and foot-prints in the thin, wet mold on the porch roof, made by some one either wearing soft slippers or in his stocking feet. He found traces of this mold on the white sill of the hall window, and traced prints of it upon the polished wooden floor of the hallway, from the window as far as the doorway of my room.

He could not find any prints of this nature within my room, nor could he say that the person making them [did not go beyond my room, but only that the footprints could not be traced beyond my door. The walking of many feet in the hallway between Mr. Ashton's door and mine had obliterated the marks and prevented his tracing them beyond that point, if they had gone beyond. They were small foot-prints, and somewhat indistinct, yet showing clearly as faint, dull patches upon the polished floor—clearly a man's foot-prints, though smaller than the average. Measurements proved conclusively that they could readily have been made by me. I sat in the dock amazed—wondering if by any chance I had suddenly developed somnambulistic tendencies and had performed these various acts while walking in my sleep. I felt that both the Magistrate and the crowd in the court-room were coming to regard me as an extremely dangerous character.

The Sergeant showed conclusively that no one had descended from the porch roof, and spoke of the woman's foot-prints in the gravel path from the corner of the porch to the main entrance. He then took up our trip to London, explaining that the Chinamen had no doubt been uncertain whether I had the stone or had turned it over to him, and to avoid taking chances had decoyed us both. He referred to my offers of assistance in unraveling the case, and my failure to mention to him my suspicions regarding the Oriental perfume, or my taking of the cake of soap from the green room. He described Li Min's attempt to steal my satchel. Finally he spoke of the finding of the emerald in the cake of soap in my satchel and the weapon in the drawer of the dresser in my room.

I arose to be examined with a sinking heart. I knew that before now in the history of criminal trials many an innocent man had gone protesting to the gallows, and already I felt sure that, unless Miss Temple's testimony was decidedly convincing, I was certain of being held for trial as either an accomplice or the principal in Robert Ashton's murder.

I told my story without any hitch or hesitation. If my reasons for taking the cake of soap from Ashton's room seemed weak, I could only inform the Magistrate that they were, nevertheless, the ones which had actuated me. If my failure to speak of the matter to McQuade seemed suspicious, I could only say in reply that I had not thought it of sufficient importance to mention to him. I testified that I had last seen Miss Temple, on that fatal night, when she bade me goodnight in the lower hall, and that I did not see her again until the next morning. when she came into the hall in answer to my cries. I felt I had made a favorable impression, but I realized that the stem facts brought out by McQuade would need more than a favorable impression to overcome them.

At the conclusion of my testimony I requested that Li Min be called to corroborate my testimony as to the removal of the cake of soap from the green room. The Chinaman was already in the witness-room, but when brought into court maintained a stolid silence, and even the most strenuous efforts of an interpreter failed to elicit from him a single syllable. It was at this point that the court adjourned for luncheon.


I REALIZED fully that the testimony of the morning had been heavily against me, but I would have gladly endured that and much more, could I have spared Muriel the coming ordeal. That she had evidence of importance to put before the court I well knew, yet whom could it possibly involve but herself? The Chinaman she could have no possible motive for screening, and her father clearly could not have committed the murder. The more I thought, the more I realized that logic pointed its inexorable finger at her, and the more strongly did the love I felt for her tell me the impossibility of such a conclusion.

I can not express the tenderness, the love, with which this girl, in our few brief meetings, had inspired me—I longed to take her into my arms and comfort her, and tell her that the whole thing was but a wretched, miserable dream. Yet it needed but a glance at the stone walls about me, the steel grating of my door, and the untasted food which stood upon the cot at my side, to assure me that this was indeed no dream, but a very cold and stern reality.

It was close on to two o'clock when I was once more taken back to the court-room. Miss Temple was nowhere to be seen. Major Temple sat in his former seat, pale and still. Presently there was a stir in die room and I saw Muriel entering, with Sergeant McQuade at her side and Inspector Burns following them. My heart sank as I saw how terribly pale and distressed she looked and with what shrinking she met the gaze of the many eyes now focused upon her. Her own sought the face of her father. He half rose, as though to speak, then sank back into his seat and covered his eyes with his hand. She did not see me at all—probably because I was so close to her.

The Magistrate rapped upon the desk to still the rising buzz of conversation among the spectators, and began his examination, quickly carrying it up through my conversation with Miss Temple the evening before the murder.

"What did you do then?"

"I retired to my room, dismissed my maid, and threw myself fully dressed upon the bed."

"What time was it?"

"Close to ten o'clock. I heard the hall clock strike the hour shortly after I reached my room."

"Did you go to sleep?"

"No. I thought and thought about the terrible situation I was in. At last I heard my father and Mr. Ashton come up-stairs, and shortly after heard my father retire to his own room. I made up my mind to make a last appeal to Mr. Ashton—to tell him under no-circumstances to deliver the jewel to my father under the impression that I would marry him—that I would refuse to do so. I wanted also to ask him to give me back my letter and to release me from my unwilling promise.

He opened his door to my knock, and, fearing I might be seen or heard by some one if I remained standing in the hall, I entered. Mr. Ashton had evidently been examining the emerald, for I saw it upon a table. He had a pen in his hand, and was making a copy, upon a small piece of paper, of the curious symbol engraved on the base of the image. After stating my case in a few words, I demanded my letter. He was very angry and at first refused to believe that I was in earnest. Then he became very brutal and refused to release me. He even went so far as to attempt to embrace me, and only by threatening to rouse the house with my screams did I succeed in making him desist. Then I hurriedly left the room."

"Did you drop your handkerchief?"

"I must have done so. The one found in the room belonged to me."

"Did you by any chance observe whether or not any of the windows in the room were open?"

"I did. They were all closed. I noticed it instinctively, because when I first entered the room I was conscious of the heavy, oppressive atmosphere of the place and, knowing the room had been long closed, wondered that Mr. Ashton had not opened the windows. I suppose it was because his long stay in the East had rendered him sensitive to our cold English weather."

"After you left Mr. Ashton's room what did you do?"

"I retired to my own room, partially undressed and again threw myself upon the bed."

"Did you sleep?"

"No. I could not."

"When did you again leave your room?"

"About five o'clock. I had been thinking all night about leaving the house. I felt that after the scene the night before with Mr. Ashton I could not endure another meeting with him. I got up, put on a walking-suit and boots and, throwing a few things into a satchel, stole quietly downstairs, opened the front door and went out."

"Where did you go?"

"I—I set out across the lawns, taking a short-cut to the main road to the town."

I OBSERVED that Miss Temple was showing a greater and greater appearance of distress as the Magistrate pursued inexorably the line of questioning which would lead her to the disclosures I knew she feared to make. Her face, white and drawn, twitched pathetically under the stress of her emotions; she spoke in a low, penetrating voice, little more than a whisper, yet so silent was the courtroom that what she said was audible to its furthermost corner. As I gazed at her in silent pity I heard the Magistrate ask the next question:

"How far did you go?"

"I went—I—I think it must have been about thirty yards—as far as the corner of the house."

"The corner of the west wing?"

"Yes." Her voice was growing more and more faint.

"Why did you not go farther?"

"I—I saw somebody upon the roof of the porch."

"Was it light?"

"There was a faint light in the sky. I walked over toward the path, and looked up at the porch roof."

"What did you see?"

"I saw some one get out of the window from the hall, on to the roof. I—I—they walked over to Mr. Ashton's window and seemed to be trying to open it-"

"Who was it?" The crucial question of all that had been asked her came like the snapping of a lash, and as she comprehended it, her face became flushed, then ghastly pale.

"I—I—Must I answer that question?"

"You must."

" But—I—I can not——" She burst into sobs, and buried her face in her hands.

The Magistrate looked at her sternly. "Miss Temple," he said, "evidence has been given here this morning which points strongly toward a prisoner in this court as the person guilty of Mr. Ashton's death. Your answer to my question may confirm or disprove his guilt. I direct you to answer my question at once! Whom did you see upon the porch roof?"

Miss Temple looked despairingly about her, rose with a ghastly look from her chair, and, facing the Magistrate, said: "It—it— oh, my God—it was my father!" Then collapsed limply against the rail.

Major Temple rose from his seat and stood white and trembling. "Muriel!" he cried, in a voice filled with incredulous amazement and horror which rang throughout the whole room.

I sprang forward with outstretched arms, but Inspector Burns was before me. He placed Miss Temple tenderly in her chair. She was unconscious.


WHEN Miss Temple launched her terrible and unwilling accusation against her father and was carried unconscious from the room, I realized that I was, to all intents and purposes, a free man. Miss Temple, it is true, had testified that the window was closed, but she could not know whether it was bolted, or whether Ashton had opened it later to secure fresh air during the night. It seemed probable that he had, but how to account for its subsequent rebolting from .the inside I could not imagine, unless Major Temple had done it, unknown to me, when we first entered the room.

I looked to see all these matters cleared up when he was placed upon the stand, and I was not surprised to see one of the officers approach the figure sitting bowed and silent among the buzzing spectators and, laying, his hand upon his shoulder, bend down and whisper a few low words into his ear. He arose and was about to accompany the office'- to the dock, when there was a murmur of voices about the door and I saw Sergeant McQuade enter with the ugly figure of Li Min beside him, followed by the interpreter, while Inspector Burns stepped quickly to the Magistrate's desk and said a few hurried words to him in a low voice.

The Magistrate, apparently very much surprised, turned to the court-room, rapped loudly for order and motioned to the officer in charge of Major Temple to release him. Sergeant McQuade, meanwhile, with his prisoner, had advanced to the dock, and without further ceremony I saw the court attendants administer the oath, the import of this being explained to the Chinaman by the interpreter.

I LEARNED afterward that Li Min, upon his first appearance as a witness, had been under the impression that he was being tried for his attempt to steal my satchel, and as he did not then know that his compatriots in London had secured the emerald, feared to make disclosures. Learning from the interpreter during the noon-hour that the Emerald Buddha had been secured by his friends in London, he was at last persuaded to tell his story.

It seems that Li Min, like many of his countrymen, was under suspicion through association with the reform movement, and, knowing the enmity of the Dowager Empress and her advisors toward this movement, had come to Hong Kong with the intention of leaving the country. His engagement as a servant by Major Temple enabled him to leave China without being under any suspicions as to his motives for doing so. It was during the voyage to England, and his subsequent stay in Major Temple's service, that he first learned the story of the Emerald Buddha, piece by piece, and of Ashton's determination to secure the sacred relic. His religious feelings were outraged and he promptly sent word to the followers of Buddha in Ping Yang. But when the word at last reached them, Ashton had already escaped with the jewel. The priest set out at once for London with two of his followers, making such, speed that they arrived in London some weeks before Ashton's coming.

Li Min was to notify them as soon as Ashton arrived arid it would then be Li Min's part to admit his confederates to the house and with their assistance steal the jewel and make away with it. His trip to Exeter had been for this purpose, but owing to the furious storm the night of Ashton,'s arrival, he decided to wait till morning; He had overheard the quarrel, feared Ashton might leave with the jewel, and passed an uneasy night.

He arose about four o'clock and crept silently through the hallway to Ashton's door, hoping to find it unfastened. Upon finding it bolted, he had gone to the hall window, raised the sash and looked out. He made a quick decision to climb out upon the roof, enter Ashton's room by means of the window and secure the emerald. But fearing lest he might be recognized by some chance early riser among the stablemen or gardeners, he descended swiftly to the main hall, threw on a long, tan raincoat and tweed cap belonging to Major Temple and, so disguised, returned to the porch roof.

He was making his way quietly along to the window of Ashton's room when seen by Miss Temple. He found Ashton's window bolted on the inside, but the increasing light showed him dimly the interior of the room* 'with Ashton asleep in the bed. He had cut his hand badly upon a projecting nail or bit of glass, and had rested his bloody palm upon the sill, his fingers pointing inward. His efforts to open the window awoke the sleeping man within. What followed I will try to tell in Li Min's own words as rendered into English by the interpreter:

"I saw the man rolling about in his bed. He seemed to be suffering, and I heard him groan and once cry out in his sleep. I pushed the window again, and it made a loud noise. The man jumped up quickly and started toward the window. His face was white and terrible. And as he jumped from bed, the hand of Buddha, the Mighty, the Wonderful One, who knows all things, smote him like a flash of fire! He fell upon the floor, uttering a loud cry.

"I was frightened, and ran along the roof and climbed into the house through the hall window, i heard sounds in the room of the young man [Mr. Morgan]. I closed the window but forgot to bolt it. I ran quickly along the hall and went down the stairs. I put the coat and cap in the closet in the hall, where I had found them, and went out through the servants' entrance. I walked into Exeter and sent word to my brothers in London that the sacred relic had come. Then I had some breakfast and came back.

Afterward I learned that the jewel was gone I did not know whether the great Buddha had taken it away or not. At last the dead man was taken away and I was sent to fix the room. I searched everywhere, but I could not find the stone. At st the young man came into the room suddenly.. After a time he took the piece of soap and went away. I was a fool—I had not thought of the soap, which lay there in front of my eyes. It was the only thing I had not searched. I knew that if Buddha had not taken away the stone, it must be concealed there.

"I watched the young man. I saw him put it in his bag. I went down-stairs, and when the satchel was left unguarded for a moment I took it. The young man and the officer were outside and stopped me. When I was taken into the jail at Exeter, my friend, Chuen Moy, came to see me. I told him through the bars what had happened. I did not know whether the young man would keep the stone or give it to the officer. I told Chuen Moy to go to London and inform our brothers that they might get the stone. I have done nothing wrong. The man who died had offended the great Buddha. He committed a sacrilege and he deserved to die. The mighty hand of the All-Powerful One was stretched out and he fell dead! I myself have seen the miracle. It is the vengeance of Buddha!"

I DO NOT know what the effect of this weird story was upon the others in the court-room, but to me it rang with all the accents of sincerity and truth. Not that I believed in the vengeance of Buddha, although even this I was not prepared to deny, but his story explained everything—and nothing. My heart gave a great leap of joy, for I knew that this terrible thing about Muriel's father, which she so firmly believed, must have almost broken her heart. Yet for me, she had told the terrible truth, as she believed it, and to save me she had gone all the way to London, to ask my advice. I began to hope that she might have for me a feeling not dissimilar to that which I so strongly felt for. her.

Major Temple was put upon the stand again, but there was no evidence now to connect either Miss Temple, her father or myself with the murder. Li Min had borne out my story regarding the taking of the cake of soap in every particular. I was discharged, along with Major Temple and Miss Temple, and only Li Min remained in custody, held upon the technical charge of assaulting McQuade and threatening him with a deadly weapon. Inspector Burns and Sergeant McQuade both signified their intention of going to London at once—the latter, however, to come down to The Oaks the following day for a final examination into the mystery. He did not believe for a moment that part of Li Min's story which referred to the sudden death of Mr. Ashton, and still suspected the Chinaman of the crime.

I was requested by Major Temple to accompany him and his daughter back to The Oaks, an invitation of which I was by no means slow to avail myself. The poor girl was greatly upset, and very much tired out, and we made haste to get her home as quickly as possible.

I was given the same room I had previously occupied and we sat down to dinner with some show of cheerfulness, Miss Temple looking especially charming in a green silk evening-gown which to my artist's eyes made her a picture I longed to put on canvas. I told her so, and we were soon discussing pictures, and art generally, at a lively rate. Only the Major seemed depressed, and I imagine this came from his regret at the loss of the wonderful Emerald Buddha. What had become of the jewel I did not know, but I fancied that McQuade's hurried trip to London had something to do with the search his men were making for the lost underground temple of Puddha.

After dinner Major Temple excused himself upon the plea that he wanted to write some letters, while Miss Temple and I sat down before the fire in the library for our first real tête-à-tête. It had begun to rain heavily outside, with a stiff breeze blowing from the southwest, and it seemed wonderfully fine and warm and altogether delightful sitting here in the firelight with the woman I loved beside me.


"MISS TEMPLE," I said, as we sat beside each other on the big leather-covered settee facing the fire, "I want to thank you with all my heart for going up to London to see me. I know why you went and can never tell you how deeply I appreciate it."

She looked at me with her bewitching smile, which somehow made me feel both delightfully happy and yet vaguely uncertain of myself. "I had to come, Mr. Morgan," she said, her voice trembling with the agony of her former suspicions of her father. "As soon as I knew the police were fastening their suspicions upon you, I knew I should be obliged to tell what I had seen. Had I found you in London, I should have told you everything and been guided by your advice."

"I wish you had found me there," I said, "but as it is, everything has turned out well. Only I am sorry that you should have had to undergo such a terrible experience."

"Oh, it wasn't so bad. They gave me a very comfortable room at the police station in London, and the matron was extremely kind. I might almost have enjoyed the experience had I not been suffering so about my father." Her look of pain at the recollection made me change the subject and talk of London and my friends among artists and musicians.

"It's the life I've always dreamed of," she said, her cheeks flushing with excitement. "I've been to so many places, Rome and Paris, and Vienna and Cairo, and the East you know, but I really know very little about them. The outside I have seen, of course, but the real life—that I have missed. And now we are stuck down here, where we don't know anybody, because father fancies it is good for his health. I suppose it is, but it isn't real, joyous living. I hardly feel alive."

"But you go to London, don't you? Your father spoke of his house there."

"Oh, yes, but father's friends are mostly professors of Assyriology, and Egyptology and people of that sort, and they come and stay for hours and talk about scarabs and hieroglyphics and mummies and all that sort of thing. Sometimes I feel almost as though I were about to become a mummy myself!"

She certainly did not look it, with her wonderful color, and her large and brilliant eyes. I could not help looking deep into them as I replied, only half smiling:

"We must prevent that, at all costs. Let me help in preventing it." She laughed nervously, but did not seem displeased at my remark. "I think the experiences of the past week have caused us to know each other very well," I went on, gravely, "and I hope you may think as much of the friendship which has come to us as I do."

"Are we, then, really friends?" she said slowly. "I never had a man friend—nor very many of any sort, I fear. We have always moved about so much from place to place."

"Perhaps not friends," I said, and as I did so I placed my hand over hers, which lay beside me upon tie leather seat of the settle. "At least not friends only. I have always dreamed, all my life, of a woman like you, who would be dose beside me, and share all my hopes and dreams, and be the cause of them all as well, and be glad of my successes and not think the less of me because of my failures. But a woman to be all that must be more than a man's friend, Miss Temple—she must be his wife."

The color flooded her cheeks as I said this, but she did not draw away her hand. "A woman would have to be very greatly loved by a man, and love him very greatly in return, to be all that to him," she said.

"I can only speak for myself," I said. "I love you very greatly—so much, indeed, that I am telling you of it now—when I have the opportunity—instead of waiting, as no doubt you think I should. But we have passed through much trouble, you and I, and that has brought us close to each other. I want you, I need you, I love you, and I shall always love you!" I drew her to me, and when she put her head upon my breast I knew that I had found my heart's desire.

IT MUST have been half an hour later when Major Temple burst into the library in a great state of excitement and asked if we had seen anything of Boris, his favorite mastiff. He had suddenly realized, a few moments ago, that he had not seen him since his return from Exeter. He made inquiries, but none of the servants had seen the dog since the day before. I remembered at once the howling I had heard during the night and spoke of it. The Major thought for a moment, then raised his head with a sudden look of comprehension. "Don't you remember, Mr. Morgan, that Boris was with us when we made our examination of the green room last night? I do not recollect seeing him after that. The poor fellow has no doubt been locked in there ever since, and it was his howls that you heard!"

We followed him to the green room and Major Temple tried several keys before finding one that could open it. At last the lock turned, however, and he attempted to push open the door. It refused to open, and felt, he said, as though some heavy object had been placed against it. By pushing with our united strength we forced the door inward sufficiently to allow us to enter. The Major took a candle from my room and we squeezed our way into the place with some difficulty, Muriel remaining outside. What was our astonishment to see lying upon the floor, his head close to the door, as though struck down in an effort to escape, the Major's mastiff, Boris, stone-dead, his eyes wide open and staring, his mouth distended and still covered with foam, his face wearing an expression of intense fear!

It was a horrible sight, and we looked at each other in alarm.

"My ——!" said the Major. "This room is accursed! Let us go!"


"WHAT is the matter?" asked his daughter as she saw our startled faces. "Isn't Boris there?"

The Major's tone was grave and solemn. "He is there, Muriel, and he is dead. I do not know what is the secret of that room, but I shall never enter it again!" He turned from us and led the way down the hall.

When we reached the floor below, the Major directed Gibson and one of the other servants to remove the dog's body from the room, and we retired to the library, where we discussed the matter for a long time. But in spite of our attempts to regard the event in a common-sense light, we could not shake off a mysterious feeling of dread at the thought of these two creatures, a man and a dog, having so inexplicably come to their ends in this room. In Ashton's cast there was tangible evidence of the cause of death, but on the dog's body there was no wound or mark of any sort.

Miss Temple essayed a few airs upon the piano, but our thoughts were not attuned to music, arid presently, as it was close to eleven o'clock, she said good-night to us both and left us. I seized the opportunity to tell the Major of my love for his daughter, and, after his first gasp of surprise, he heard me out with remarkable calmness, though there was a frown upon his forehead.

At the mention of my profession and my income I noticed that Major Temple's frown relaxed somewhat, but when I mentioned my father's name and the fact of his having spent a part of his life in India, he fairly beamed.

"Are you really the son of Edward Morgan?" he cried, rising. "Why, my boy, I knew him well! I was in the Indian service for fifteen years, and who did not know him, who has spent much time in that benighted country? He was a fine man, and, if I remember rightly, he refused a knighthood for his services." He came up to me and took my hand.

"It's all very sudden, I must say, but I should be very glad to see Muriel happily married, and if she believes you to be the right man, I shall interpose no objections. But I should advise you both wait a reasonable time, until you are certain that you have not made any mistake. As for me, I am an old man, and I have traveled all over the world, but the only real happiness I have ever found was in the love of my wife. She went out to India with me, and she never came back." He turned and gazed into the fire to hide his emotions.

"I have become half mad over this business of collecting antiquities and curios," he resumed presently, "but it isn't real—it's only an insane hobby after all, and I have only just realized how selfish it all is."

AS I STOPPED at my doorway, I noticed that the door of the green room stood partly open, and, filled with a curious fascination, I once more peered into its dark and silent interior. I could see only the faint outlines of the tall, old-fashioned bed against the dim light of the sky without the windows. I stepped inside, acting upon the impulse of the moment, and lit one of the gas-jets in the heavy, old-fashioned bronze chandelier.

The room seemed comfortable enough, though I felt that peculiar stifling sensation I had noticed upon my first entering it. I wondered for the thousandth time what strange secret lay concealed within its walls—what mysterious influence existed which was potent to strike down man or beast alike without warning, as though by the hand of death itself. I longed to penetrate to the heart of this mystery—to satisfy myself that what had occurred herein had not been supernatural, but merely some working of well known natural laws.

Suddenly I was seized with an idea. Why should I not spend the night here and possibly thus determine the grim secret? The idea grew upon me so strongly that I at once returned to my own room, undressed, put on my pajamas and, taking a small pocket revolver, crossed the hall into the room opposite, carrying with me some extra coverings for my bed.

I did not feel at all sleepy, so, after closing the door and climbing into the high poster bed, I lay back comfortably upon the pillows and proceeded to occupy myself in reading a magazine.


THE night was in many ways like the one Robert Ashton spent there. A heavy rain had set in, and the wind from the southwest was driving it against the windows of the room, just as it had done that other night. I had attempted to raise one of the windows before turning in but it was impossible to keep it open for any length of time as the rain drove in fiercely and threatened to flood the room. I began to reconstruct in my mind the scene that' had been enacted in this room but a few nights before—the stormy interview with Muriel, the hiding of the jewel in the soap and the use of her forgotten handkerchief for catching the flakes dug out by his penknife.

Then, I thought, what next? No doubt Ashton had turned off the gas and climbed into bed. I say climbed advisedly, for the bed, one of those old-fashioned four-posters with a feather mattress under the hair one, was far higher from the floor than are our modern beds, and to facilitate getting into it there stood beside it a little low, wooden stool, by which one ascended to its snowy heights.

Presently, over my imaginings, I felt myself growing unaccountably sleepy and tired. I realized that the strain of the long day had been a heavy one, and I could see no reason for going, without a good night's rest. There was no priceless jewel concealed upon the premises to bring down upon me either the vengeance of Buddha or the murderous attacks of my fellow men. I laughed a little at my earlier fears as I rose in bed, reached over to the chandelier and turned out the light.

I must have slept for several horns, during which I tossed about, a prey to broken and tortured dreams. I seemed to be struggling to free myself from a huge soft object which lay upon my chest and threatened to strangle me. In a madness of fear I half awoke, trembling and weak, and, with a cry, thrust the imaginary body from me and sprang to my feet in the bed.

I saw nothing but the faint light of the window opposite me, and with a mad desire for air I sprang violently forward, my right foot, as I lurched heavily outward, coming down upon the wooden stool by the side of the bed. And as I thus dashed headlong in the direction of the window, gasping desperately for breath, I suddenly felt a violent glancing blow upon the side of my head that shook me to the very marrow and stretched me stunned and unconscious upon the floor.

THE process of coming back seemed to take an age, yet 1 know now that it could not have been more than a few brief moments. When at last I opened my eyes 1 was intensely weak and still gasping madly for air. I seemed unable to breathe—my lungs and heart seemed oppressed as though by heavy weights. Slowly and painfully I struggled to my knees and raised my hand to my head, which seemed ready to burst with pain. It came away dripping with blood.

The sudden shock of the realization that I was wounded, together with the sharp pain the touching of the wound gave me, roused me to the necessity of quick and sudden action. I tried to rise, but my legs seemed made of stone—I fell over upon my side and then began to crawl laboriously and painfully toward the door. The choking sensation increased every moment—for a time I thought I should never be able to reach it, and then I thought of Muriel and all the future held for us, and l made a last terrible effort, dragged myself across the few feet remaining between myself and the door and, with barely enough strength left to reach up and turn the knob, managed somehow to fall across the threshold and into the hall.

I fell with my head and most of my body in the passageway and must have again become unconscious. When I once more revived I no longer felt the horrible sensation of choking that had before oppressed me, and I attributed this to the cold air of the hall. I felt very weak, and my head was lying in a pool of blood, but my senses were fairly clear and I knew that I must regain my room and attempt in some way to stop the flow of blood.

After some difficulty I managed to rise and stagger into my room and to find a wax taper and light the gas. A look into the mirror caused me to shudder—my face and the entire right side of my head were a gory mass of blood. I brought myself to some appearance of humanness and bound up the wound. It proved to be a long irregular gash, extending from near the temple down almost to my right ear.

Returning cautiously to the green room, I entered and looked about me. The light from my own room and the gray signs of dawn without enabled me to see that it was empty—there was no silent figure crouching within, waiting to deal me another deadly blow, nor had I expected to find any. I took one look about, seized my watch from the table and fled.

But when I left that chamber of horrors and closed the door behind me, I knew how Robert Ashton had come to his death.

ON RETURNING again to my own room I glanced hurriedly at my watch. It was nearly six o'clock and I lay down upon the bed to rest. Presently I fell asleep, from pure exhaustion, and did not awake until I was aroused by a tapping at the door. It was after ten o'clock and one of the maids had brought up my breakfast upon a tray. I sent word by her to Major Temple, requesting that Sergeant McQuade be asked to postpone his final examination of the green room until I had seen him. In somewhat less than an hour I had managed to get myself into fairly presentable condition and, with my head bound up in towels that looked for all the world like an Eastern turban, I slowly descended to the main hall and entered the library.

Major Temple was standing with his back to the fire, talking earnestly with the detective. As the former caught sight of my pale face and bandaged head he sprang forward and took my hand, "Good ——, Mr. Morgan!" he cried. "What's wrong with you?"

I tottered unsteadily to a seat and laughed. "Nothing much, sir," I replied. "I had a bit of an accident."

"You look rather done up, sir," said MeQuade as he examined me searchingly. "Has Buddha been at work again? Major Temple has just been telling me about his dog. I've handled many cases, but this one beats them all for uncanniness and downright mystery!"

"I know how Robert Ashton was killed," I said, "and I'm pretty sure I can explain the death of the dog as well. In fact, you came very near having a third mystery on your hands this morning, Sergeant," I smiled grimly.

"What do you mean?" they both of them cried together.

"I slept in the green room last night," I replied, "and the thing that did for poor Ashton came very near doing for me as well!"

"You slept in the green room?" gasped Major Temple in amazement. "What in the name of, heaven did you do that for? Explain yourself, man!" he went on, somewhat testily. "What happened? Tell us about it, can't you?"

"I can and will," I said slowly, "but not here. We must go there before you can fully understand."

"Come on, then!" said McQuade, and they both started toward the door.

At that moment Muriel came in with a happy smile, which was replaced by a look of deepest concern as she saw my bandaged head. "Why, Owen!" It was almost the first time she had called me by my Christian name and it made me feel wildly happy in spite of the racking pains in my head. "What on earth is the matter? Are you hurt?"

"Not much," I managed to reply. "Just a bit of a cut. I slept in the green room last night and, as I was telling your father, I managed to find out the secret of Mr. Ashton's death."

"You—you slept in that room?" she cried, turning a bit white. "Why—you—what could you have been thinking of?"

"Don't think about it," I said, patting the hand she had placed upon my arm. My realization of her concern, her love, her fears, because of my possible danger, filled me with joy. "We are just going there now, and I hope to explain just what happened."

As we followed the others up the stairway she took my arm and pressed it gently, and the look she gave me repaid me many times over for all the horrors of the night just past.

A pool of blood on the floor of the hall still gave mute evidence of the experience through which I had passed. Muriel shuddered as she looked at it, but I hurriedly pushed open the door and bade the others enter. I had no desire for further sympathy, nor did I wish to bring about any dramatic climax. We all entered, the Major and Muriel looking about fearsomely as though they momentarily expected some unseen figure to rise and confront them, weapon in hand. When they were all inside I closed the door.

"The weapon that fractured Mr. Ashton's skull," I said, "has been in plain view of every one, ever since the morning his death was discovered. There it is!" I continued quietly, and pointed to the heavy bronze chandelier which hung from the ceiling close to the side of the bed.


THEY all looked a bit non-plussed and nobody said anything for several moments. Then McQuade asked, in his quiet voice, with a shade of comprehension in his tone: "How do you make that out, sir?"

The chandelier was an old-fashioned one, originally made, I fancied, for a room with a somewhat higher ceiling. The ceiling here was unusually low, and the extreme lower end of the chandelier extended to a point not much over six feet from the floor. It hung about three feet from the side of the bed and consisted of a heavy central stem and, extending from its lower end, four elaborately carved branches. Below the point from which these four arms sprung was a sort of circular bronze shield, and from the lower face of this projected an octagonal ornamental spike, about two and a half inches long, terminating in a sharp point. Almost directly beneath it, but somewhat nearer to the side of the bed, stood the low bench or stool not over five inches high, the use of which I have already mentioned. I explained the tragedy to the detective and the others as I knew it must have happened.

"Last night," I said, "I was unable to open a window because of the driving rain. The same condition existed upon the fatal night Mr. Ashton spent here. For some reason, which I hope to explain presently, we were both nearly suffocated while asleep and rose suddenly in bed, with but one thought, one desire—to get a breath of fresh air. The window directly opposite the bed attracted us—in Mr. Ashton's case, no doubt, the face of Li Min peering in from without increased his terror. Like myself, he sprang up and dashed toward the window, placing his right foot, as I did, upon the low stool beside the bed. "His first dash, like my own, brought his head, elevated by the height of the stool, in contact with the spike upon the lower end of the chandelier with great force. The spike entered his head, fracturing the skull. He was a taller and heavier man than myself and the force of the contact as he sprang forward and upward must have been terrific.

"In my case, owing to my having jumped from the bed at a slightly different point, I struck the spike only a glancing blow, sufficient, however, to render me unconscious for several minutes. I fell to the floor, senseless, but in a short time I struggled to my knees and managed to escape from the room. The interval, from the time I first fell to the time I reached the hall and again became unconscious, must have been very short."

"Why?" asked McQuade.

"Because had the time been very long you would have found me here this morning, as Ashton was found."

"But why?" asked Major Temple.

For answer I took a box of wax tapers from my pocket. "Look," I cried, as I held a match out before me, where it burned with a bright, clear flame. I slowly lowered the taper until it reached a point a few inches above my knee, and its flame slowly faded away and then suddenly went out, as though the match had been plunged into a basin of water.

McQuade gave a significant grunt. "Carbonic acid gas!" he said. "But where does it come from?"

"THAT I do not know," I said, "but I think there should be no great difficulty in finding out. This room has been closed for a long time. Even when Mr. Ashton came here, it was opened for only a few moments. Neither he nor I opened the windows, because of tire rain, as you know.

"Somehow, just how I can not say, a slow stream of carbonic acid gas finds its way into this room. It is the product of combustion, as you of course know, and is produced in large quantities by burning coal. It may come through the register from the furnace, or from some peculiar action of partially slaked lime in the plaster of the walls. Being heavier than air, it slowly settles to the floor, where it collects."

I tore a few sheets from the magazine I had been reading the night before and, lighting them with another match, extinguished the flame but allowed the smoke from the smoldering paper to spread about the room. It slowly sank until it rested upon the surface of the heavy gas, like layer of ice upon the surface of a body of water. It showed the carbon dioxide to be considerably over two feet deep and some six or eight inches below the level of the top of the bed. I knew it must have risen higher during the night, as it was its deadly fumes that caused my troubled dreams and the feeling of suffocation. A considerable portion of the gas had evidently flowed out through the open door after my escape from the room.

"And that is what killed poor Boris!" said the Major.

"Exactly," I said, "and probably Ashton as well. The surgeon at the inquest reported that the fracture was not sufficient, of itself, to have caused instant death. It was ten minutes or more, I should say, from the time I was first awakened by Ashton's cry until we finally broke in the door. By that time he had suffocated."

"I believe your explanation of Mr. Ashton's death is the correct one, Mr. Morgan," said McQuade, and he said it ungrudgingly. He walked over to the chandelier and examined its ugly looking spike with deep interest. It was stained with dried blood, and a few bits of hair still clung to it, but whether Ashton's or my own of course we could not tell.

There seemed nothing further that we could do, and as McQuade intended going into Exeter to make his report and have the authorities make an examination into the cause of the carbonic acid gas, I suggested that I accompany him, as I wanted to get my wound dressed without delay.

ON THE WAY McQuade told me about his attempts to locate the much sought emerald. It appears that the Chinamen, in taking us from the house in Kingsgate Street, had passed through an areaway back of the house and thence through a gateway in the rear wall into a narrow court, along which they had proceeded some distance. From here they had entered the rear of a house facing upon the adjoining street, to which the cellar belonged. They had all, however, completely disappeared, and left hardly a trace of their presence. No doubt by now the Emerald Buddha was far on its way toward the little shrine in Ping Yang, carefully secreted among the belongings of the old temple priest. I felt a sort of secret satisfaction at learning this, and I think Sergeant McQuade did as well. Certainly its possession could have brought nothing but trouble and danger to all of us.

I had six stitches taken in my head and drove back an hour later after saying goodby to the man from Scotland Yard. I received a letter from him later with reference to the investigation which the authorities made into the cause of the carbonic acid gas. It seems that the heating system in the house had been installed by its former occupant and owner, a native of Brazil, unused to our cold English Winters. The pipe for the green room led directly from the combustion-chambers of the furnace instead of from a hot-air chamber and thus carried away from the furnace great quantities of carbon dioxide, produced in the combustion of the coal.

An old valve in the pipe showed that this source of supply could be shut off when so desired, and from this I judged that the owner of the house may have had the piping intentionally so constructed, with the idea of putting out of the way some undesirable friends or relatives. That such was actually the case seemed borne out by the rumors of at least two sudden and mysterious deaths which were known to have occurred in the house. I had noticed the register the night I slept in the room, and presume it had been turned on by Mr. Ashton.

I REACHED the house about four o'clock and found Muriel awaiting my return in the library. Her father, she told me, had gone off for a walk. We had a great deal to say to each other, and it took us till dinner to say it, but I have an idea that it would not interest the reader particularly. We had a lively party at dinner and the Major got out some special vintage champagne to celebrate our engagement and drink to our future happiness. It was late before I turned in, and I did not, you may be sure, sleep in the green room.

Here ends the story of the Emerald Buddha and the memorable week it caused me. It has now been three years since Muriel and I were married, and they have been three years of almost perfect happiness. We think of making a trip to China, some of these days, and if we do, we have concluded to make a special pilgrimage to Ping Yang and place upon the altar of Buddha the most beautiful bunch of dowers that money can buy, as a little testimonial of our appreciation of what he has done for us.